Street vendors especially women in Nagaland play a very crucial role in maintaining the local economy. Majority of the women street vendors sell their commodities just to feed and support their families. Most of them are widows or they have never got the chance to experience and live the life of a happy family.
When Fit Northeast, inquired, most of the street vendors confessed that they sell their products not with hopes of becoming rich but to take care of their everyday needs. One of the hardest things for these vendors is finding the perfect spot to sell their goods. It is easier to sell their products in big marketplaces rather than smaller ones since most of the smaller market places are pre occupied or paid for in advance. On a good day, some of these vendors clock profits close to Rs 2000 or more and on a bad day, they do not even manage to sell anything but instead spend close to Rs 300 for transporting their products and paying off their everyday market fees.
Most of the products they sell include fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, flowers and fast foods. The biggest hurdles they face are from their competitors who are mostly illegal immigrants' said one of the vendors who wished not to reveal her identity (We will address her as Miss Alona).
Miss Alona says that these illegal immigrant street vendors buy their products from different sources at exceptionally cheap rates and sell it off in the market at a rate cheaper than the competition.
The biggest hurdles that local street vendors of Nagaland face are from their competitors who are mostly illegal immigrants"This has reduced the customers for the local women vendors and increased the number of customers for the illegal immigrants," she said. "Also, most of the customers fail to realize the difference in the food products. Essentially the ones, which the locals sell are fresh from their own gardens while the others are from unknown sources, which are mostly fertilized to make them (fruits, vegetables etc) look (artificially) healthy and fresh," Alona explains.
When asked how the ongoing pandemic has affected their daily sales, Alona replied that everything went downhill. "Ever since the nationwide lockdown began, markets were closed for months. This forced us to sell our products wherever we could by making makeshift sheds. Due to the lockdown, most of our vegetables and fruits started rotting and this resulted in a colossal loss. The repercussions were also experienced in the local economy that went crashing downhill. However, we have managed to overcome against all odds through persistence and perseverance," she explained.
Most of the local street vendors suffered incalculable losses for a couple of months but now they seem to be on their feet again. "Since transportation of goods from different places is barred to our state (because of the ongoing coronavirus) local street vendors have gradually started clocking gains again. There is no competition and the demand is rising rapidly. It is indeed encouraging to witness the rise of local vendors in the face of the pandemic because this has also shown a ray of hope for most educated unemployed youths as well," Alona revealed.
When asked what her message is for the people who shall be reading this article, she replied, "I want people to understand the hardships that we local street vendors face every single day. None of us wish to be in this situation, talked down and cursed just because we are trying to feed our families. However, I believe and pray that the people of Nagaland will begin to understand and support their local vendors because if we do not exist, even our local economy will belong to those illegal immigrants who profit from us and do not even spend a single cent in our state."