According to ARAS Dhanabalan, secretary, Thoothukudi Small Scale Salt Manufacturers Association, normally by this time a new crop would have been produced in salt pans, but the intervention of rainfall forced to stop production on time this year. While a few salt pans started taking off, many manufacturers have laid their hands on reformation of rain inundated salt pans. Hence, production is expected to commence in the middle of March if rain did not intervene further.
There’s also a growing demand for Thoothukudi salt since production in Gujarat is not up to the mark owing to downpour during the monsoon season and moreover salt production in Rajasthan, the second largest producer, did not pick owing to environmental pollution problems.
Therefore the delay in salt production in Thoothukudi could lead to a shortfall in production by about 20 to 30 percent this year against its average annual production rate of 25 lakh tonnes. Current stocks could last for a month, Dhanabalan told DT Next on Sunday.
S Petchimuthu, a Thoothukudi based salt manufacturer, said though production got delayed by almost 50 days, the salt market is enjoying a price run-up. Now, market price of a tonne of manufactured salt has increased by Rs500. “With about 25 percent hike on its market value over the previous year, the delighted salt manufacturers were treating the abundance of nature as a blessing for their business,” Petchimuthu said. MSP Thenraja, president, Tuticorin Salt Merchants Association, said with stocks staying in, the industry stakeholders for one or two months would make up for the production delay.
However, the trade is facing a challenge as some merchants could hardly manage transportation of salt owing to less availability of trucks, which often move towards Thanjavur for carrying loads of paddy to various destinations, he said.