Price crash scorches tomato growers

Tomato growers in the district, Chamarajanagar district and other adjoining areas are in distress as there are no takers for their produce for the last two weeks.

They have been selling tomatoes at 50 paisa to Rs three a kilo, a far cry from Rs 30-40 a kg a few months ago. The high prices prompted farmers grow the fruit on a large scale, resulting in the glut.

As the fruit started flooding the APMCs in Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Gundlupet, prices crashed, stunning the growers who had expected to make a killing in market.

Despondent and angry, farmers vented their frustration by dumping tomatoes on roads, a common scene in most districts.

Madaiah, of Salundi in Mysore taluk, cultivated tomato on his meagre 20 guntas of land. For his pains, he has been reduced to selling the tomato pushing a cart in the streets here, at three kilos for Rs 10. He has no hopes of even earning enough to pay for his food or to pay the rent for the pushcard, leave alone getting back his investment.

According to sources in APMC markets of Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Gundlupet, an average of three to four tonnes of tomato arrives in the market everyday. Mysore APMC Market Supervisor Nagaraj told Deccan Herald that usually, traders from Tamil Nadu and Kerala buy tomato from Mysore, Gundlupet and Chamarajanagara markets. While  supply to the neighbouring State is normal, the price crash is due to excess arrivals in the markets.

Chamarajanagar district Raitha Sangha president Mahesh Prabhu demanded that the district administration open procurement centres in APMC markets to buy tomato at minimum support price (MSP).

In the recent past, the Government announced minimum support price for 28 agricultural products, including Rs two for a kg of tomato. The government should fix at least Rs five MSP for tomato besides taking steps to supply tomato to food processing industries when there is a glut in the market, Prabhu said.

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