Tamil Nadu Villages return to barter system amid lockdown’

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Tamil Nadu Villages return to barter system amid lockdown’

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 | Kumar Chellappan | KOCHI

Their counterparts in cities and metropolis are worrying about economy, finance, GDP, EMI and host of other issues because of the pandemic by name Covid-19. But villages in Tamil Nadu wear looks of calm and placid.

Life goes on in these villages without any tension as men and women wear contended look, at least in the villages of Ariyalur district. Though the Chief Minister and top bureaucrats burn midnight oil to resolve the cash crunch and an impending agro-crisis, the impact is yet to reach villages like Chetti Thirukonam.  

The liquidity crisis may be a factor worrying the Reserve Bank and Union Finance Minister. But villagers in Thirukonam are unaffected.

“They have returned to nature”,  catchword popularised by a branded soft drink in the 1980s. Villagers, whose main occupation is agriculture and farming have resorted to the age old barter system to tide over the financial crisis which had put them in some difficulties initially following the announcement of the month long national lockdown.

Some of the villagers like Selvaraj had sacks of chillies and groundnuts which they had cultivated. “But there is no transport to take this to the mandies foe selling and there ios no government procurement because of the lock down. I had no cash with me to buy rice for my family. All villagers were caught in a dilemma like this,” said Selvaraj over phone from Thirukonam.

It was then that one of the village elders came with the idea of barter system.  “Some of the villagers had cultivated okhra, brinjals and  other perishable commodities. Initially we exchanged these goods among us based on the market rates.

Then we got in touch with neighboring villages. There were many farmers who had cultivated jaggery, tomato and other vegetables in addition to paddy. So we started a mutual exchange/barter system. Two and a-half-sacks  paddy was sold for 25 kg chillies. The operation is smooth here,” said Karunanidhi another villager.

Selvaraj said the farmers were happy because they were getting market rates for the produce. “There are no middlemen and the transactions are transparent and honest. We are happy that we are also doing cashless transactions,” said Selvaraj. Well, if the barter system catches up like this, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman may have to find new avenues for resource mobilisation. Remember, there is no GST or any kind of cess on barter system.

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