Karnataka

They worked on farms, now they sell brooms

Kenchakuppe residents forced to change their vocation

Dasappa travels to Bangalore every alternate day, carrying a pile of brooms that has just been readied for use. He sells it in the wholesale market and returns to his village by the evening.

Dasappa is one among the many residents of Kenchankuppe, a village about 35 km from here and about two km from Bidadi on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway, who have been forced to venture into this business after the land on which they worked as labourers became unfit for farming. Moreover, making brooms has become a family vocation and a source of livelihood for them for the past 10 years.

While the unabated quarrying in the adjacent hillock, locally referred to as Narasimhaswamy Gudda, resulting in stone dust settling on agriculture fields has been the main reason for declining agriculture activity, many farmers stopped hiring landless labourers since cultivation of ragi became unviable.

“We get dried leaves from coconut palm from villages near Maddur and Chennapatna, clean it and prepare brooms before selling them to wholesalers in Bangalore,” Dasappa told The Hindu. “We prepare about 150 brooms a day, especially when we can source the dried palm easily,” he added.

While Dasappa and many others sell brooms for about Rs. 10 to Rs. 12 a piece in the wholesale market, they procure palm leaves in bundles from villages. According to them¸ they incur a cost of about Rs. 7 to Rs. 8 a broom on raw material. “Adding to this is our labour and transportation cost to Bangalore. We hardly get anything if our volumes are less,” said Balu, another village resident.

A grocer in Basavanagudi, who sells brooms, said the retail price could range between Rs. 15 and Rs. 20.

K.H. Chandrashekaraiah, a resident of Kenchankuppe, who has been fighting quarrying for over seven years now, said the village residents were forced to change their vocation. “Nobody is employed now. It works like a cottage industry with minimum investment and the involvement of the entire family.”

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Printable version | May 24, 2020 9:27:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/they-worked-on-farms-now-they-sell-brooms/article4801212.ece

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