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Dwindling tomato prices hit farmers hard in Tirupati

The prices of no other commodity fluctuates as much 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 brings 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 only the best quality fruit touches Rs 8. Farmers were now worrying that if the price falls further they will have no other option but to dump them in the fields.

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, tomatoes 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, viruses have been damaging the crop and fruits are badly affected. Now, farmers in the Mulakalacheruvu area were not bringing their crop to Madanapalle. Instead, they are selling about 650-700 tonnes of tomatoes 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 farmer.

SK Masthan, a trader in market yard, said that the ups and downs in the prices and supplies have become quite common. Though farmers have become accustomed to these developments, they could not bear the losses if the prices fall beyond the present level. The farmers are seeking government intervention to come out of the situation. They want the government to set up a pulp industry in the market yard even if it is through a private entity.

Source: The Hans India

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