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Tomato growers in distress

Last updated: 16 February, 2010
K Narasimha Murthy, Kolar, Feb 16, DH News Service: 23:29 IST

Price plummets to 60 paise per kilo; brinjal selling at record Rs 40/kg in Srinivaspur

The tomato growers in the district are in distress as the prices have plummeted to as low as 60 paise per kilogram.

 Glut in the market coupled with decreased demand has  resulted in steep decline in the price of tomatoes. The produce brought for sale at APMC market yard in Kolar on Tuesday.  dh photo
The price of a box containing 15 kg of the vegetable ruled at Rs 10 at the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee yard here on Tuesday. High quality tomatoes were being sold at Rs 60 per box. The growers may find it difficult to recover the cost of inputs if there no let up in the prevailing situation.

As much as 20,000 quintals of tomato are traded on any given day at the yard. However, the arrivals stood at only 3,175 quintals on Tuesday.

Oversupply

Legislator Sudhakhar, who is also a tomato grower attributed the nosediving prices to glut in the market coupled with decrease in the demand. “Several farmers in the district grew tomato as the produce fetched Rs 15 to Rs 25 per kg in the months of last October, November and December. The farmers of Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Chikmagalur and Davangere districts too grew the vegetable expecting decent returns. The market was thus flooded with the produce. In addition, contraction in the demand brought down the price to the floor.”

Sudhakar said that the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were dependent on Karnataka for tomato. The vegetable used to be sold to the markets in Chittur, Madanapalli, Nellur, Guntur, Vijayawada, Tirupathi, Vizag and Chennai. The farmers there too have now taken up tomato cultivation and thus reducing the quantity demanded. Furthermore, the vegetable is not being exported also.

“The collapse in the price of the vegetable which remained stable for about eight months is a matter of concern. There are apprehensions of the price nosediving further,” Sudhakar said.

The grower can at least achieve break-even if he gets Rs 3 per kg. Horticulture Department has determined the price at Rs 30 for a box of 15 kg of tomato, which works out Rs 2 per kg. Farmers can’t even recover the transporting cost at the ruling price, Agriculture Produces Marketing Committee director Ramesh opined. “A similar situation cropped up in July 2008 and support price was declared to ease the situation. Given the arrivals into the market, the present decline doesn’t appear to be significant. The only way out of the crisis is to enhance the quality of the produce. It should be observed that the price of quality tomato is ruling at Rs 60 for 15 kgs,” Ramesh said.

The farmers in the district, of late, have started to grow vegetables other than tomato to offset the violent fluctuation in the price of the produce.

Brinjal price soars

On the other hand, even as Union government has dropped the move for commercial exploitation of Bt brinjal, the price for native quality of the produce has shot up in Srinivaspur market. The vegetable which used to trade at Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kg is now being sold at a record price of Rs 40 per kg.

Brinjal forms the main component in the food prepared during festivals and marriages in this peripheral part of the State, influenced by the practice in the bordering state of Andhra Pradesh. Nannu Saab, a trader, attributed the increase to onset of marriage season.

The arrival of native variety of brinjal has declined in the recent days. Farmers are not growing the vegetable as the borewells have dried up and there is no water in ponds and tanks. Similar condition prevails in Andhra which used to supply the produce and the short-supply has fuelled the price rise, it is said.

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