Andhra Pradesh

Corona threat spurs activity in turmeric fields in

Farm workers boiling turmeric rhizomes at a field in Guntur district.

Farm workers boiling turmeric rhizomes at a field in Guntur district.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Farmers engage migrant workers for processing exercise

Amid the coronavirus threat, activity in the turmeric fields has picked up in the recent past. Turmeric farmers have engaged migrant workers to take up the turmeric processing.

As the smoke billows from ‘gaadi poyyi’ (hearth made in the form of a deep trench) in the fields, a team of workers are seen busy curing the fresh turmeric rhizomes. “For this work, we need at least six persons. Each one has a specific duty,” says Galeb Sahev, who heads a team of workers at Mallempudi village in Guntur district. The fresh rhizomes are loaded in ‘baanalu’ (huge iron vessels) for boiling. The ‘baanalu’ are immersed in the water-filled ‘kalai’ (square shaped vessel) and covered. The turmeric is boiled for an hour or so. It requires four persons to lift the ‘baanalu’ and unload the cured turmeric, he says.

Equipment rent

His associates such as Sk. Nagul Meera says that they process about 10 quintals a day. The owner of equipment takes ₹30 out of every ₹90 earned as rent. Each worker would earn about ₹500 to ₹600 per day depending upon the work load, he says.

Turmeric farmers like B. Damodar Reddy says that the rhizomes loses one-fourth of their weight after boiling and drying. The boiling increases the shelf life of the turmeric. The boiling of rhizomes avoids the raw odour, reduces the drying time and yields uniformly coloured product, he explains.

Galeb Saheb says that he and his associates migrate to other districts where turmeric is cultivated. He says that their work starts soon after harvesting. As every farmer cannot afford to dig a ‘gaadi poyyi’ and engage workers in their own fields, they bring their produce to one common point.

“We spend about a month in open fields here. While one of us prepares food, we take up the boiling and other works and complete the curing of produce of every farmer. In fact, it's a team work,” he says.

Satish, his associate, says that back in their native place, they are engaged in cutting subabul trees. That work fetches ₹200 to ₹600 a day. The turmeric curing is a seasonal job, he adds.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:29:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/corona-threat-spurs-activity-in-turmeric-fields-in/article31259627.ece

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