Lockdown triggers tomato price crash in Kolar

Lockdown triggers tomato price crash, Kolar farmers left in the lurch

Unsold tomatoes in Kolar APMC

Prices of tomatoes have crashed due to lockdown and decrease in demand in the wake of COVID-19 scare.

Farmers are finding it difficult to transport their produce to the markets due to non-availability of vehicles. Transportation of tomatoes to neighbouring districts and states has virtually come to standstill.

Kolar district is the largest grower of tomatoes. According to the agriculture department data, the crop is cultivated in over 9,000 acres of land in the district. The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) yard records tomato transactions worth Rs 350 crore per annum. About 200 truckloads of tomatoes are sent to neighbouring districts and Kerala, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra daily.

The tomatoes grown in Kolar district are also exported to China, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The tomatoes are harvested in the district is between April and October. Prices of tomatoes were skyrocketing in February due to heavy demand from other states. After the lockdown was imposed, buyers in other states haven’t visited the district to buy tomatoes.

The daily arrival of tomatoes till March 23 was about 2,619 quintals and one quintal of produce fetched Rs 1,133. However, the price dipped drastically March 24 and tomato is now trading at Rs 133 per quintal.

Farmers and merchants are unable to get vehicles transport tomatoes from fields to markets and then to other districts and states. According to farmers, these factors have forced them to halt the harvesting. They have chosen to leave the produce in the plants itself. 

There are about 150 merchants and 500 labourers in the APMC and their livelihood is now iat stake. 

“Farmers have stopped the harvest as merchants hesitate to buy tomatoes considering lack of goods vehicles,” Srinivas, a farmer from Muduvatti said.

Srinath, a merchant in APMC said,” Merchants have stopped buying tomatoes from farmers as owners of goods vehicles demand exorbitant money to transport tomatoes.”

According to Ravi Kumar, assistant director, APMC, Kolar, demand for tomatoes has come down all over the country due to lockdown. Farmers are suffering as they are unable to send tomatoes to neighbouring states.