Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Translated from Kokborok by Hamari Jamatia
The first Covid-19 lockdown in India was announced last year on March 25, 2020. At that time Ranjit Tripura, a 26-years-old man was visiting his uncle in Agartala. When the sudden lockdown was implemented, he found himself stranded in the city with no means to return home. Instead of sitting around waiting for transport facilities to reopen, Ranjit decided to address the needs of the families living around him and started to sell fresh vegetables.
A year later, Ranjit owns a successful vegetables stall named Amir Vegetables in Nanda Nagar, an up and coming suburb of Tripura, about 5 km from central Agartala. His stall is always stocked with fresh vegetables and he has a string of loyal customers. Now that the second lockdown is in force in the state, Ranjit has turned the adversity into an opportunity and he has started advertising his wares via Whatsapp. Every day he sends out photos of fresh vegetables to his customers on a group chat who then order their required items from him. He then packs the produce and delivers them door to door, making a smooth transition from offline to online business. Needless to say, he now lives in Agartala and has not returned back home to Manu in Dhalai District. When he first started door-to-door delivery, he had a bicycle. Now he owns a second-hand bike.
“When the first lockdown was implemented, my uncle told me that instead of giving up, I should use the time to bring vegetables from the city and sell it at the suburb so I did that. Since the people of the suburb could not go to the city anymore, the business kicked off instantly. My uncle gave me the initial money to set up my business,” Ranjit says.
At present, Ranjit procures vegetables from Champak Nagar which is the hub of indigenous produce. The market sells organic vegetables cultivated by the indigenous communities in their vegetable gardens and in huk or jhum fields. Ranjit buys these produce in bulk and sells it to the residents of Nanda Nagar. His shop is full of local items such as bamboo-shoots, banana flower, snails, jackfruit, yam, fermented fish etc.
The lockdown in Tripura is eased during the morning so that is when he gets the most number of customers. Ranjit ensures that people follow Covid-19 guidelines, wear masks, and maintain social distancing.
Looking back at his year-long journey, Ranjit says that young people should not shy away from working hard. “Young people should learn from people who do not give up. There is no shame in working hard and taking care of one’s family, no matter the profession,” he says. Coming from an economically weak background, Ranjit now sends money to his parents regularly.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.