Coronavirus pandemic scare affects salt exports from Thoothukudi

A decline in the export orders, owing to the pandemic scare, has created a cascading effect, evaporating the sales and profits of the salt industry in Thoothukudi – one of the leading edible salt producers in the country. “No single order has been received from overseas buyers this month so far,” said John Prabakar, a salt exporter.

Every year, a minimum of 25-lakh-tonnes of salt is being produced from over 20,000 acres of salt pans along the East coast, between Vembar and Palayakayal in the district.

Sources said that a sizeable quantity of the commodity produced every year is being exported mostly to countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. “With the coronavirus scare, it is difficult to get a shipment order,” said John, adding that the situation would improve only after the countries recover from the pandemic.

‘Restriction deteriorates supply chain’

Thoothukudi Thanpadu Salt Exporters’ Association Treasurer C Pon Pandian said that the transportation of salt to other states has declined in view of the inter-state transport restrictions. “More than 300 salt-laden lorries would be sent to Kerala, Karnataka and Andra Pradesh every day from Thoothukudi, which has now drastically reduced to 50 lorries,” he said.

Thoothukudi Small Scale Salt Manufacturers’ Association Secretary ARAS Dhanabalan said that although salt being an essential commodity, there is difficulty in loading and unloading the consignments.

Waive off charges’

Dhanabalan said, “Many salt consignments, exported a few weeks ago, have been stranded at overseas port premises due to the restrictions. The consignments stranded at the ports have attracted huge detention and demurrages.” He requested the Union Ministry of Shipping and External Affairs to take steps to waive off the charges.

S Jerry David, a salt trader from Kovangadu, said that such kinds of reports on salt production would cause the commodity price in the domestic market to dip.

A senior official from Tamil Nadu Salt Corporation in Chennai told that, they have been awaiting further orders from the Secretariat regarding the issue.