Tamil Nadu

Farmers in Cuddalore receive unexpected fillip as idle stocks of Vetiver grass are procured to make masks

Bundles of Vetiver harvested by farmers in Cuddalore district

Bundles of Vetiver harvested by farmers in Cuddalore district   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Farmer say that due to the lockdown, Vetiver grass could not be sent to other States, but a company procured the stock from them in order to make masks

In the most unexpected manner, the COVID-19 pandemic has come to the rescue of Vetiver farmers in the district.

Since masks are much sought after now, a businessman C.M. Jayachandran hailing from Kottakuppam in Villupuram district hit upon the idea of producing masks using Vetiver grass.

With the supply chain of farmers in Cuddalore district affected due to the lockdown, Jayachandran procured 10 tonnes of grass from them through the Department of Agriculture, and started production of the masks in April.

Farmers were keeping their fingers crossed in disposing of the stock and Jayachandran’s company Elite Health Care’s decision to procure the raw material for making masks has ensured relief for them, to an extent.

Normally, Vetiver grass would be sent to Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. With the lockdown coming in the way of the normal functioning of the trade, farmers now find that their herbal grass produced on large tracts of land, is in great demand to produce masks.

According to Suresh, a Vetiver farmer in Cuddalore, “The crop is cultivated on over 1,000 acres in the district. Due to the lockdown, over 2,500 tonnes of Vetiver was lying idle all these days. But now, with the production of masks, the demand for the crop has increased and we have been selling the idle stock to the company."

Mr. Jayachandran says that he had procured around 10 tonnes of the grass from farmers at ₹1.10 lakh per tonne. Initially the company produced 50 masks to start with, and tested the efficacy of the masks with friends before commencing production.

“The masks, priced at ₹50 a piece, are produced through a three-stage process. They are made of super fine biowash cloth of two layers with Vetiver stems inserted inside. The masks can be washed once in two days and each mask lasts 10 washes,” he adds. Mr. Jayachandran claims that Vetiver in the masks helps in cooling and also eases breathing behind the mask. The masks can be used for nearly two weeks he says.

The masks have found patronage from the Chennai City Police and officials in Cuddalore district. The administration purchased over 3,000 masks and distributed them to police personnel and also to front-line workers.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 6:41:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/farmers-in-cuddalore-receive-unexpected-fillip-as-idle-stocks-of-vetiver-grass-procured-to-make-masks/article31729298.ece

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