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Fruits and vegetable vendors: Lack of cold storage facilities and health issues, a major concern
While spending some time watching the modus operandi of different hawkers dealing with vegetables and fruits in different parts of India, the following are some of the general observations about them.

Many of these businesses are conducted through unorganised manner. Cash is the only medium through which transactions can be done. No debit card or credit card can be used or accepted while transacting with these hawkers. 

Majority of these hawkers are uneducated and therefore they carry many myths and beliefs in their every day lives. They work very hard by coming early in the morning hours and staying late in the evenings.

When these hawkers come in the morning hours, some of them bring their own stuff for sale while others get it from a bundle of sacks unloaded through a freight van. These bundles of sacks contain both vegetables and fruits. Probably, a freight van is hired by a select few hawkers in select places.

Hawkers operate from both the areas - earmarked select areas as well as through encroached areas. During warm climates, many of the poor vegetable/fruit vendors use jute bags as a cover and keep sprinkling water on these regularly. As a result, the vegetables and fruits do survive for a few more days especially those which cannot be sold the same day.

One of the hawkers did mention that at times of emergency on health issues, the situation do cause enough stress and tension on financial fronts as huge chunk of money flows out for treatment causing the family undue hardship.

Many of the hawkers bring food from the house in the morning or get their supply of food during lunch time by some member in the family bringing it for them. Otherwise they depend on usual chai (tea) and some pan masalas on a daily basis. For attending their nature's call, they depend on one or two close by public convenience facilities.

Going by the above observation, by solving at least two issues could be of big help to them. One area could be helping them with a centralised cold storage facility in different areas which would help them in keeping their unsold vegetables and fruits for a longer period and the other area could be bringing them under some sort of umbrella of medical insurance.

Such a medical insurance would enormously help them in meeting any emergency situation with ease. Concerned quarters can do well to debate the above issue for bettering the quality of life of these hawkers who act as a medium between farmers producing the eatable stuff and the consumers buying these stuff.

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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