The rise in positive coronavirus cases hangs the sword of Damocles on vendors of ice-apples (taati munjalu) a seasonal fruit available in summer, in the district. The vendors lament whether they will be able to make enough profits by the end of May since the yield of the palm trees is decreasing every day. The yield of the ice-apples per palm tree more often than not reduces in the sweltering heat. To cite an example, a vendor said one can have hardly four ice apples per palm tree now.
An ice-apple vendor D Rajesh, says, “If there is a lockdown again, I don’t know how we will survive. Last year due to the lockdown, we couldn’t sell the ice apples,” he said, cursing 2020. Now, we can sell the fruit towards the end of May and few days into June,” he added.
A group of vendors were sitting under the blazing on Tuesday were dehusking ice-apples. One of them said, “Our day begins at 4 am. We climb around 70 palm trees (four of them together). We arrive in Vizag limits (near Yendada) from Thagarapuvalasa by 10 am to sell the fruit.” The group stayed till around 3 pm and then headed back home. On their first day, they sold around 45 to 50 dozens of ice apples – Rs.50 per dozen. “Though we climbed 70 odd trees, we found very few fruits on each tree,” said Appala Naidu.
The profits from the sales are split between the group members. After deducting travel expenses, each of them is left with Rs 300 to Rs.400 per day during the ice apple season. One can witness most vendors selling taati munjalu along NH-16 between Yendada and Indira Gandhi Zoological Park from morning to evening.