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Plight of vegetable vendors

By Rajvi Mulani

Complying with the government’s rules for the lockdown was challenging for many people to ensure daily earnings. The complete lockdown impacted the lives, especially those working as street hawkers, small scale shop owners and so on.

The situations forced people to earn money through working to sustain their livelihood. Numerous people shifted their business to vegetable or fruit vendors as the lockdown progressed. This is the story of one of the many. Shakti Singh, a 50-year-old resident of Delhi, said, “I owned a small restaurant in Shubhashnagar for the past ten years. I earned nothing as soon as the lockdown started. I had to do something to earn money and support my family. The situations were so; this seemed like the best option to me. This probably wasn’t something that I planned on doing, but at least no one in my family sleeps hungry now.”

He was not alone; Jitendra Sahni, a 45-year-old hawker, shared a similar experience. He sold vegetables in the same locality. His business of garments went entirely down the drain after the pandemic hit. “Sometimes, I even take the vegetables that I couldn’t sell to my home so that I can provide one meal to my family.”

They still had not lost their hopes and were looking forward to the schemes that the Delhi government had launched. [1] Street vendors selling fruits and vegetables have the maximum share of 46% of the total 21.64 lakh loan applications that the bank and the financing agencies have received under the PM Street Vendors’ Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM Savinidhi). Women vendors have 40% of all the applications received. The eligible vendors get up to Rs. Ten thousand subsidized loans to restart their business. While their loan amount is small, this takes care of the capital that street vendors require to run their business.

With this, the Delhi government also focused on providing ration to those without a ration card.

The bigger problem that the street vendors faced than selling was getting hold of vegetables and fruits without violating the PM's orders to stay at home. They preferred to buy the vegetables from local and nearby farms as it would cost them less than usual.

It was also difficult for them to choose any other business to lean on as no businesses except those who bear necessities would not run. It was not that selling vegetables made them earn any profits. Though they bought the vegetables from local farms, they would pay three times more for the stock. They could not sell at a higher rate, or else they would lose the regular customers. They had no option other than selling at losses.



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