Salt Industry in India

Salt Industry in India

News: The salt industry in India is facing several challenges to produce salt and meet the market demand. Salt farmers are also in distress as they are not getting MSP like other food crops produced by farmers. The farmers are demanding proper wage system along with social security.

How much Salt does India produce?
• India is the third-largest producer of salt in the world after the USA and China. In India, nearly 30 million tonne of salt is produced every year.
• India exports nearly 10 million tonne of salt from its total production while industries consume about 12.5 million tonne and retail customers consume the rest.
• Sea salt constitutes about 70% of the total salt production in the country. Thus, salt is mainly produced through a solar-evaporation process of seawater. 
• With accounting for over 76 % of total salt production, Gujarat tops the list followed by Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and 
• The business thrives in Gujarat’s Kharaghoda (Surendranagar district), Bhavnagar, Porbandar and the Rann of Kutch.
• Salt is harvested by mining in Himachal and Rajasthan while other states produce it by a solar-evaporation process of seawater.

Why lesser production of Salt this year?
• In Gujarat, the salt harvesting season starts in March, but due to the extended monsoon in the coastal areas, it was started quite late.
• As the state witnessed rain until first week of October, salt pan operators have had less time for harvesting.
• The top layer is used for consumption for being the purest product and remained layers are cleaned and sent to chemical industries before the arrival of the next monsoon.20JUNE 2022 GS-1

What are the demands within the Salt Industry?
• Need for MSP and Recognition as agricultural product
• The Indian Salt Manufacturers’ Association (ISMA) has demanded the classification of salt production as agricultural activity under the ministry of agriculture instead of its current status as an industry governed by the ministry of industries & mines.
• Mining produces hardly 0.5% salt. 99.5% of salt is produced either from sea water or from sub soil water and the whole process is done by seeding, farming and harvesting.
• Unseasonal rains and floods are resulting in demand for Minimum Support Price.
• Wages and Social Security 
• Companies have replaced cooperatives and they decide the wages of these workers and the production of farmers. Most of them are migrant labourers.
• The cooperative sector is more or less passive. Workers are going through serious health issues and economic distress with no minimum wages or social security.

Way Forward:
• Salt is a Central subject and land is a State subject. Salt has two parents and no one is taking care of salt. Responsibility has to be fixed on governments and manufacturers. What we need is a new Salt Act as a common policy for the entire country.

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