VIJAYAWADA:The future of making earthenware products may be in danger as several potters are encouraging their younger generations to quit the work and look for an alternative source of livelihood. Even as their income has been reducing over time, the pandemic has only added to their woes.
“We lost close to Rs 80,000 during lockdown. My regular income has also reduced over the years due to improvement in technology. Five to seven years ago, it was easy for us to survive with what we earned by selling water pots during summer. That is not the case anymore as many can afford a refrigerator now. Due to the popularity of ceramic and plastic products for home decor and kitchenware, our finances have dwindled,” lamented Lakshman Rao, who has been in this business for the last 30 years.
The 42-year-old further said he has asked his son to learn other skills so that he could support his family.
“My son helps us and he is also a good artisan. But as I suffered from some health ailment, it became difficult to support family with this business. He has learnt welding and is now pursuing a diploma in it.”
His son Durga Prasad, added: “It feels bad that despite having interest and talent, I cannot take my family’s legacy ahead. If I don’t get a decent job after my diploma, I will definitely return to pottery and keep making and selling whatever products I can.”“If we do not get customers then how can we earn profit and repay our loans?,” asked Rao.
Adding to him, Durga Prasad suggested that apart from providing financial assistance, the government should also provide automatic wheel and good quality mud, sand and clay to them. This can help potters make products faster and can also help them make better designs which can help them attract more customers,” he said.
Another potter, Srinivas, 60, said his family has suffered a loss of Rs 1 lakh due to the lockdown.
“Earlier, my family earned around Rs 15,000 per month, which even went up to Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 during summer. Because of the pandemic, it is difficult to make even Rs 10,000 a month, which has pushed us into debt.”
His wife Santhi said they have asked their son, who also used to help them, to look for other jobs as they need money to repay the debts.
The potters are of the opinion that instead of providing them loans, the government should offer them financial assistance similar to what is given to weavers and handloom workers.
“During lockdown we survived on some money that we had and on the ration provided by the government. My son is looking for supervision work at construction sites. If he gets the job, we can repay our debts,” she said.