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Farmers Throwing Tomatoes Due to Terrible Losses: An Analysis

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

Farmers have stopped harvesting okra says the farmer friend Sameer Adhikari from Bombay. Nashik and Ghote Markets are open says a farmer friend from Nashik. Early morning we hear news reports from Loksatta Daily of 3000 kilograms of tomatoes being dumped in a Lake in Karnataka. When farmers are expecting losses around 10-20 thousands, why will they harvest when all they have to spend is for harvesting and transportation, when the returns are very less. The situation is grappling says farmers who are in contact with us.The heartbreaking news of Tomato being sold at Rs 2 per kg in the wholesale market as a result of which the farmers are unable to recover even the input cost and farmers in and around have prompted the farmers throwing  tomatoes by the lake  side.

Farmers when they planted the saplings the prices were around Rs70-80 per kg in the retail market, but now it crashed. Unprecedented global situations like these are making difficult to recover the input cost. These are not situations that have cropped up in the COVID-19 crisis, but similar situations have been a regular occurrence as we look at the earlier reports in the yesteryears too. Prices plummeting is a regular occurrence due to varied climatic conditions which is a regular occurance these days.

Analysing Hindu Reports of As Early as August 2015 Upset with sudden fall in tomato prices, the farmers threw their produces on a street near the APMC market in Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka and they even staged a protest blaming the failure of APMC committee, merchants and officers of Agriculture Marketing Department for the dip in prices. When tomatoes prices dipped from Rs 8 to 10 per kilo to as low as Rs. 1 per kilo and came down to 50 paisa a kilo, left the farmers angry.

With tomato prices falling steeply, farmers of Davangere dumped the perishable commodity on roads near the wholesale vegetable market in the city in the month of June 2018 reports Hindu. In February 2019, Hindu again reports from Giddalur in Prakasam, a rainfed area shows where a young farmer who got good yield of 1,680 quintals per acre by micro irrigation techniques reports that there is no end to woes as the market for the highly perishable commodity has plummeted with the traders in Giddalur buying it at just ₹50 to ₹60 per box of 28 kg,”

 Solutions Helpful in Crisis

The solutions should always be proactive and it can never be implemented at the time of Crisis Situations like these. Keeping in mind that there are chances of situations to happen in future the government needs to analyse the situations at gramsabha level and actions needed to be planned. We hope the present government has all powers to do what is expected by the farmers of our country.

Solutions

  1. The government should fix prices at farmer level.
  2. The State Agriculture Departments at the Gramsabha/Panchayat level needs to plan the crops well in advance. Why can’t we work for a cropping pattern? Each panchayat needs to be food sufficient and sustainable. We have excess of food production yet people die of hunger.
  3. Market Intervention at government level should be there to protect our farmers from losses.
  4. It is also advisable that the government should start food processing units for the alternative use of the perishable commodity. We hope these food processing units will provide employment to rural youths and therefore the cities will have less of migration. Some proactive steps like these even could prevent farmer suicides too.

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