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Palm jaggery traders make hay on Chittoor highways

It is in demand for its therapeutic qualities and affordable price

Motorists driving along the national highways through Chittoor district towards Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will be greeted to the spectacle of roadside vendors selling palm jaggery arranged neatly in large piles, shouting ‘Karuppati vellam’ to attract buyers.

Dozens of palm jaggery traders have arrived from Tirunelveli and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu to set up stalls along the highways, carrying with them truckloads of jaggery. Due to the ongong COVID-19 pandemic, palm jaggery is now in demand as it is considered good for building immunity. As such, the traders are looking to reap profits by selling high-quality palm jaggery at competitive prices.

Palm jaggery is also used as an ingredient in ‘halwa’ and ‘nippatlu’, and thus is highly sought after.

The traders have adopted an aggresive marketing strategy to entice motorists. They have began announcing through hand-held megaphones about the therapeutic effects of palm jaggery and its efficacy in keeping infections at bay, and assure that the jaggery is free of chemicals. They reiterate that they are from Tirunelveli, as the district is known for its high-quality palm jaggery.

With prices hovering around ₹140 a kg, motorists too find it affordable and buy some jaggery to give it a try. The jaggery lumps are displayed in an eye-catching way, by being stacked like a wall of bricks.

“This is the right time for us to do business in other States. The pandemic has come as a boon to us. We perceived that the majority of the people are now taking immunity seriously. As palm jaggery is considerably costly in the hinterland, far away from coastal belts, we are able to attract customers with our low prices. Carrying bulk stocks and disposing them of quickly is ensuring us decent profits,” said Prakash, a young seller from Tirunelveli, who has set up a stall at Narayanavanam crossroads on the Chennai highway.

Parthibhan, another trader camping at Pichatur on the same highway, said that apart from residents of surrounding villages, a number of motorists from Tamil Nadu, mostly from Chennai, on their return journey are giving them major patronage. “People from Tamil Nadu are aware about the importance of palm jaggery, particularly at a time like this. Moreover, palm jaggery is a regular ingredient for a number of traditional families of Tamil Nadu. As our price is somewhat lesser than in Chennai, naturally they buy from us in large quantities here,” he said.

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