COVID-19: Bitter times for Agra's petha industry
Seventy-five per cent units, producing petha, have been closed due to the pandemic and only 25 per cent reopened after the lockdown
Agra's famous petha industry has seen a drastic decline in business due to the second wave of COVID-19 impact, according to the traders.
"Traders were affected more after the second wave. We were trying to restart the business after the first wave of the pandemic but after the second wave, we were left with no hope of revival," Rajesh Agrawal, a trader at Agra's popular petha market at Noori Darwaja, told PTI.
Seventy-five per cent units, producing petha, have been closed due to the pandemic and only 25 per cent reopened after the lockdown. Besides, there has been a 70 to 75 per cent decline in sale," he said.
Agra's popular sweetmeat, petha, is made with ash gourd or white pumpkin, which is also called petha in Hindi.
Before the advent of the pandemic, there were about 500 units producing petha, but the Covid-induced lockdown left about 125 running, Agrawal said.
For their situation, the traders blame the decrease in tourist inflow in the city of Taj Mahal that attracts maximum number of visitors from abroad.
The 3,000 retail shops that provide employment to about 50,000 people, including workers, shopkeepers, farmers, and others were severely affected due to the pandemic, according to Agrawal.
"Traders should be given some financial support to restart their business, otherwise it will be difficult (for us) to survive," he said.
Another trader, Sonu Yadav, claimed that the price of ash gourd was Rs 25 per kilogram before the lockdown in 2020.
Currently, it costs around Rs 5 per kg in the vegetable market, he said.
"The weekend lockdown is also impacting the sale as Taj Mahal remains closed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday other monuments are also closed on Saturday and Sunday," he added.
A retailer at Fathebad Road, Arun Kumar said: "Before Covid, the daily sale at my shop was about Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 but these days, it is about Rs 2,000 or less. The government should now lift the weekend lockdown, so the flow of tourists can increase.