The outbreak of deadly virus COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in every sector of life. It has unleashed adverse effects in business also. Its impact can also been seen in salt manufacturing sector in India.
Salt farmers along the Indian coastline are predicting a shortfall as after the lockdown, labour shortage, absence of transportation and inter-district travel restrictions have prompted producers to stall work at many salt works.
The salt-manufacturing season stretches between October and mid-June – with maximum production taking place in March and April. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu account for nearly 95 per cent of the production while Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal chip in with smaller quantities – taking the national tally to about 200 – 250 lakh tonnes of salt every year.
“We lost half of March and all of April… That’s over 40 days at peak of the season. In salt production, loss of one mid-summer month is comparable with other industries losing four critical months,” says Bharat Raval, president of Indian Salt Manufacturers Association (ISMA).
Indians consume 95 lakh tonnes of edible salt every year; demand from industry ranges between 110 – 130 lakh tonnes while 58 – 60 lakh tonnes are exported to countries that are fully dependent on India for salt. Industrial salt is used by power plants, oil refineries, solar power companies, chemical manufacturers, textile makers, metal foundries, pharmaceuticals, and rubber and leather manufacturers.
Only delayed rains can save the day for salt manufacturers. Beyond that, there should not be many pre-monsoon showers or cyclones hitting shorelines over the next two months.