The Times of India: Madurai: Thursday, July 16, 2015.
Rise in temperature has given a boost to salt production in Tuticorin, the chief salt producing area of the state, resulting in a drop in prices. Salt manufacturers in the region have kept their fingers crossed, as they hope to make up for the loss incurred in the beginning of the year.
About 70% of the total salt produced in the state comes from Tuticorin. Salt production is carried out on an area of 25,000 acres on the outskirts of Tuticorin town. About 50,000 workers are involved in the process, directly and indirectly, and the region produces about 25 lakh tonnes of salt every year.
The production starts in December, with the workers preparing the salt pans and pumping seawater into the pans. However, the real salt production starts from February and goes on till September each year. This year, the production was hit in the early season due to untimely rains. About 30% of the total salt produced was lost. As production went down, the prices soared and a tonne was sold at Rs 2,500. But now the same sells for Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 per tonne.
Usually, the region produces about 25% of its annual production by April - May, but the rains had hit hard. They were not able to supply sufficient salt to the companies that convert it to free flow and crystalline salt. As a result, the industries had to bring in about 1.20 lakh tonnes of salt from Gujarat.
Tuticorin Small Scale Salt Manufacturers Association executive member S Petchimuthu said the weather conditions were conducive now. The soaring afternoon heat, coupled with the dry wind, is doubling the production of salt.
It usually takes about 15 days for salt to be produced on an acre, but now the same was taking just five to six days, he said.
However, they may still not be able to produce their full annual capacity as weather conditions in the coming days cannot be predicted.
"If it rains in August, then we will be hit again and it will be an achievement if we are able to produce 50% of our annual production," he said.
The industry, which is labour intensive, is also finding it hard to get workers. Young people are not willing to enter the salt-making industry.
"If you come to my farm, you won't see a single person above 40, as youngsters are not willing to come and work in salt pans," he added.