A group of tribal youths staying at Budige Jangala colony on the outskirts of the town collect copra (dried coconut kernels) in exchange for an equal quantity of sugar. Every day morning, the streets of the town reverberate with the shouts of these barter traders.
As part of their business, they roam around the town and adjoining villages. Surprisingly, they are doing good business as people have accepted the age-old practice of barter system. All the 40-odd tribal youths who took up this system of trade were earning ₹400 to ₹500 a day, after meeting their petrol expenses as they travel on mopeds.
They hit upon the idea of barter trade exclusively for dried coconut kernels as there was good market for the commodity. “We collect copra and give to customers an equal quantity of sugar in exchange. Later, we take the copra to the oil mill in the Gunj locality in the town where it is processed into coconut oil and coconut powder. The traders pay us ₹Rs 60 to ₹90 per kg of dried coconut kernel, depending on quality,” said Shyam, who has been into this trade for the past two months.
A Mallamma, who sold her two kg of copra in Rampur locality, said she was happy to secure an equal quantity of sugar as the copra had remained unused for several months at her home.
A trader said coconut oil prices had shot up, following the cyclone in Tamil Nadu and Kerala where the coconut trees were uprooted. Presently, coconut oil costs ₹300 to ₹400 per litre, coconut powder ₹200 per kg and copra ₹170 per kg. He said coconut powder was used in making chutneys in eateries.