Over Declining Market In Salt : Producers Upset
The declining market price of manufactured salt in Thoothukudi has upset producers here. With a conducive weather prevailing here, salt production, which commenced on the first week of March this season, goes unhindered, but its market is not enterprising, according to A.R.A.S. Dhanabalan, secretary, Thoothukudi Small Scale Salt Manufacturers Association. Its market price has plummeted and not even half of the production cost incurred by the producers could be met. While the production cost primarily involving electricity and labour of one tonne touched ₹800, market price of the same quantity of salt now is between ₹400 and ₹500. Since the demand for this product has come down, it can hardly be moved into the market. Not only in the domestic market, the export market is also not up to the mark. A volume of two or three lakh tonnes should have been exported from Thoothukudi, but exports were not much on the expected lines, he told The industry was facing labour shortage as well and to overcome this problem, mechanised salt production is the need of the hour. Citing this, he opined that a cluster of 20 salt producers could be formed to bring about the mechanisation in production with government subsidy. With mere small scale units, the possibility of mechanisation for production tended to be remote. It required a minimum of 500 acres of salt pans to adopt mechanised production like in Gujarat, Mr. Dhanabalan said. The manufactured salt from Gujarat has been penetrating markets in Tamil Nadu. With lesser production and labour costs, they market this commodity at lesser market price than us. Earlier, Thoothukudi salt had its market potential in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, but the growing market penetration from Gujarat affected our fortunes and hence, we could not withstand the lower price, said M.S.A. Peter Jebaraj, president, Gandhi Irwin Salt Manufacturers Association. Electricity subsidy is desperately needed for salt production as it constitutes a major cost to production. Despite representing this demand with the State government, nobody is concerned about the salt producers. The livelihoods of around one lakh salt workers in the district would be at risk if the market did not flourish. Moreover, electricity consumption tariff had also increased manifold, he said.