Dwindling tomato prices hit farmers hard in Tirupati

Dwindling tomato prices hit farmers hard in TirupatiTomatoes arriving at Madanapalle Market Yard in Chittoor district

The prices of no other commodity fluctuate as tomato prices. Having known the tendency of the market very well, still, farmers gamble with the crop by ...

Tirupati: The prices of no other commodity fluctuate as tomato prices. Having known the tendency of the market very well, still, farmers gamble with the crop by growing it in more acres when the prices are going up. By the time the crop enters the market, huge quantities of supply bring down the prices resulting in net loss to the farmers. This cycle has been occurring season after season and year after year.

Resembling this panic situation, hundreds of tomato growers in the western parts of Chittoor district were in tears with prices dwindling between Rs 2 to 8 per kg in the biggest market yard in Rayalaseema at Madanapalle. While the lowest variety costs Rs 2, normal varieties are ranging between Rs 4-6 whereas the best quality fruit touches only Rs 8. Farmers were now worrying that if the price falls further they will have no other go but to dump them in the fields only.

The retail price was varying between Rs 9-12 in Tirupati and other parts of the district. The traders in the market yard observe that demand has dipped to a low with the availability of crop in neighbouring Anantapur district and borders of Karnataka State. In the past, tomato being supplied to those areas also from Madanapalle and it has been reversing gradually over the years. Even Latur district in Maharashtra has been producing plenty of crop.

Another worrying factor was the decreasing quality of tomato in the area. "The farmers were using poor quality of seed. Indiscriminate use of fertilisers was another reason. Due to this, virus has been damaging the crop and fruits are badly affecting. Now, farmers in Mulakalacheruvu area were not bringing their crop to Madanapalle.

Instead, they are selling about 650-700 tonnes of tomato everyday there itself where there was no competition", said a trader. All these factors were responsible for the fall in prices. Market yard gets 1,000 tonnes of tomatoes on Friday and about 600 tonnes on Saturday despite poor demand. Still, exports were going to Delhi market, who buy at Rs 7 per kg and sell them for above Rs 13 there. Those buyers were also rejecting poor quality of tomatoes as they rot so early. If farmers get less than Rs 8 per kg then they will incur loses, said a famer.

SK Masthan, a trader in market yard, has told The Hans India that the ups and downs in the prices and supplies have become quite common. Though farmers have accustomed to these developments, they could not bear the loses if the price fall beyond the present level.

The farmers are seeking government intervention to come out of the situation. They want government to set up a pulp industry in the market yard even through a private entity. This will really help the farmers as they can sell their crops to the industry when the prices are dipped. Now, they have to send them to other places by incurring transport costs and commissions additionally.

In 2002, the then government opened cold storage which was not required here and had to close it in 2008. The farmers have been demanding for pulp industry for the last 15 years and no one has cared it leaving everything to the fate of farmers.

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