June 8, 2018
COIMBATORE : Vendors and small time traders fail to catch public eye and their problems often go unnoticed.
Coimbatore has over 7,000 street vendors like Santha who owns a roadside fish stall at Power House junction and has a variety of fish neatly arranged on trays to serve the hungry customers. She is among the many marginal farmers forced to turn vendors.
She moved in from Karaikudi where she was a farmer and says “Water was scarce and we were forced to look for other jobs. I came here with my husband. He is working as room boy in a lodge.”
She buys 50 to 60 kg of fresh fish from Ukkadam market. “I have taken this business with the financial help of Magalir Kulu and I have to pay monthly Rs 6000 to the agent to hold up this place for my business,” she says.
Durai,selling fruit juice near VOC Park, says, “I moved here from Vellore where I had a farm land. Owing to drought and, I was forced to take over this business.” It is a hard truth that many marginal farmers are forced to take to other business, he adds.
“There are many schemes that are helpful to small scale business starters, though there are very few ones for marginal farmers and that too many are yet to be implemented,” says Barath (name changed), who owns a fruits and vegetables shop at Ganapathy.
Saroja worked as a typist for five years before she joined her husband’s business. She sells butter milk and kambu koozh with some snacks. “I can recollect the days which I used to spend with my family in my farm. But now everything has changed. My father was forced to give up his land to a money lender and moved to Coimbatore,” she adds.
Almost 70 per cent of marginal farmers quit cultivation and were forced to look for other jobs. “Increase in public investments in agriculture is the key to provide sustainable livelihoods to our farmers, especially for the marginalised and this needs to be given priority,” say activists.