Lockdown: Masons, bar-benders turn vegetable vendors, milk sellers
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Lockdown: Masons, bar-benders turn vegetable vendors, milk sellers

April 24, 2020

By Rajkumar Bhavasar

Having lost their regular income due to COVID-19 lockdown, occupational workers are looking at other means for their livelihood and they have found that vegetable vending is the best alternative source of living.

With occupational workers resorting to vegetable and fruit vending, many roads of the city are dotted with these roadside sellers. These vendors, after finding suitable spots on roadsides which are wearing a deserted look due to lockdown, camp at vantage spots to sell their vegetables and fruits.

With all shops shut due to the lockdown, most of the residents in nearby areas prefer to buy vegetables and fruits from these temporary roadside sellers rather than go to a distance, scouting. As the authorities have imposed limited restrictions on sale of fruits and vegetables, these street sellers seem to be having a good time with buyers too patronising them.

 Other means of earning

Most of the occupational workers, labourers and other daily wage workers are forced to look at other means of earning and they have found that the best way of earning their daily bread is to temporarily take up roadside vegetable vending through push-carts or by camping on road sides. These vendors are making the best use of the ease on restrictions with regard to distribution of milk and sale of fruits and vegetables.

R. Rajesh, a mason for the past 15 years, has now turned to vegetable vending. Somanna, an agriculture labourer, is now selling coconuts. Malligamma, who worked as a domestic help, has resorted to roadside vegetable vending while Rangaswamy, a construction worker, sells milk. Although what they are doing now is not their regular occupation, these labourers have no other sources of income and as such they have taken up vegetable and fruit vending as an alternative means of livelihood.

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 A bright idea

Rajesh says that his livelihood was snatched by the lockdown as all commercial and other activities came to a grinding halt. “I used to get daily wages working as a mason. I was deeply disappointed when everything came to a halt all of a sudden. When I was thinking about what to do next, the idea of vegetable vending flashed in my mind and I wasted no time in entering into this business,” he says.

 So is the case of Malligamma, who worked as a domestic help before the lockdown. Now she is selling vegetables in a pushcart and is earning some money. 

Farm labourer Somanna, who faced a lot of hardship in the early days of the lockdown, has now taken up coconut vending. He earns an average of Rs.240 every day by selling about 120 coconuts with a profit margin of Rs.2 per coconut.

Rangaswamy, a bar-bender engaged in the construction industry, was thrown out of work due to lockdown, following which he has resorted to door-to-door milk vending, earning about Rs.75 per day, enough for his daily needs.

 Sales at HOPCOMS outlets more than double

Due to lockdown, the volume of sale of fruits and vegetables at almost all HOPCOMS (Horticultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society) outlets in the city, has more than doubled in the past couple of weeks.

In the pre-lockdown period, HOPCOMS used to sell 7 tonnes of fruits on an average every day. But now this figure has touched 15 tonnes. So is the case in respect of vegetables. Among the fruits that are much in demand include apple, orange, grapes, pomegranate and melons.

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With COVID-19 lockdown in place, HOPCOMS has also resorted to home delivery of fruits and vegetables through vehicles. Deputy Director of Horticulture Rudresh attributes the surge in the sale of horticultural produce to people staying indoors. As people are enjoying family life by remaining in homes and preparing food as per their own food habits and taste, the sale of fruits and vegetables have seen a spurt in demand post-lockdown, he said.

Among the vegetables that are much in demand include beans, carrot, beet root, ladies finger, brinjal, cauliflower and capsicum. However, more than fruits, vegetables are easily available in city as there are many street vendors.

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