To meet the increase in demand for hand sanitisers and masks, many women self-help groups (SHGs) are working overtime to manufacture the products in bulk here.
Ever since COVID-19 positive cases were reported in the country, public in general were cautious and started using face masks and hand sanitisers to protect themselves from the virus. However, considering the surge in demand, some outlets started selling the products at higher prices and there is shortage in supply of masks and sanitisers.
Many women SHGs have started manufacturing masks and sanitisers and they are not eyeing huge profits despite the demand. The cloth masks manufactured by them are sold at a reasonable price of ₹10 a piece.
S. Sharmila from Sri Sai Mahalir Kuzhu said that there were 10 persons in the group and they have been making the masks for over a month. “We used to manufacture the surgical masks using the non-woven material but due to shortage of raw materials, we have increased production of cloth masks now”, she said.
She added that while two units were initially into this, she has pulled in more units to meet the orders. “We have supplied about 5,000 masks in a month and currently we are working day and night to meet the order of 10,000 pieces. Considering the demand, we are not interested in increasing the prices. We sterilise the masks using proper equipment and have not compromised on quality,” Ms.Sharmila said.
She added that though they used to manufacture masks earlier, the requirement then was only 2000 pieces a month and the increase in orders in this period has helped them meet some of the financial requirements like school fees of their children and payment of other maintenance bills. Ms.Sharmila earns up to ₹ 500 a day.
S. Selvakumar, Project Director, Mahalir Thittam, said, “Four units are into manufacturing of face masks and two units are into hand sanitisers. Currently, they are working on meeting orders of about 10,000 masks mainly for distribution among sanitary workers at local bodies here. These groups can even manufacture three-ply masks based on orders.” He added, “the units have also manufactured about 50 litres of hand sanitisers.”
Mr. Selvakumar added that the units were trained by Health department officials and government doctors on safe production techniques. He added they were also arranging loans for these groups to meet the cost of raw materials.