TIRUCHY: Like many others, Palaniswamy (45), a farmer in Manikandam, thought the lockdown would end on April 14. But the government’s decision dashed his hopes.
Undeterred, he hit upon the idea of selling hand fans made of palm leaf. Instead of going out to his one-acre field, he now cycles 10 km to the city.
“I get palm leaf from my village. I start early in the morning otherwise police would stop me. I am not making much profit but am able to earn at least Rs 200 a day. I hope the demand would increase as the temperature is rising,” said Palaniswamy.
Palaniswamy, initially, sold his wares at the market place but had little success. He then started selling in front of hospitals. “I could not make any sales as those coming to markets were only looking for essentials. I then tried selling hand fans in front of hospitals and got some customers. Nowadays, I sell mostly in front of hospitals,” he said.
Palaniswamy said his family was concerned about his safety as he ventured close to hospitals, but he had no option. “I have two children and must ensure they have at least one square meal a day. My brother is a welder and he is not getting work because of the lockdown. I have to support his family too in whatever way I can. I do not want him to accompany me as it would put both families at risk. These are hard times and we are trying our best for survival,” said Palaniswamy.
A farmer who used to cultivate paddy, ginger and cucumber, Palaniswamy gets jittery at the prospects of Centre extending the lockdown. “We received rations and money from the State government, which offered some relief, but our livelihood continues to be affected by the lockdown. The government has to come up with some solution to protect life and livelihood,” he said.