Tomatoes brought by farmers to an open auction market at Narayangaon along the Pune-Nashik highway are finding finding new markets in Dubai. According to traders, at least one lakh tonne of tomatoes have been exported from Narayangaon alone to Dubai this season.
The last three to four years has seen overseas markets emerge as a lucrative option for traders and farmers alike in this region. Traders come to this open auction which was started by a bunch of young agricultural graduates in the year 2005 as a model to break the hold of commission agents over farmers.
Around 1,200 -1500 tonne of tomatoes are sold here everyday, with the turnover touching `150 crore to `170 crore, says Shriram Gadhave, president, All-India Vegetable Growers Association and president of the Shivneri Group, Junnar.
According to Kisan Vitthal Kutal, a trader whose firm Sai Priti Tomato Supplier purchases over 5 trucks of tomatoes from the open auction on a daily basis , some 20 trucks ( each truck contains 8-10 tonne of tomatoes) go to Jawaharlal Nehru Port everyday and these tomatoes are then sent to Dubai.
“I was among the first traders to tap the export markets for Dubai and several traders followed me after I succeeded,” he says. Kutal says the opening of the export market has revived the local markets as well. Farmers, otherwise, were getting very poor rates, he points out. According to Gadhave, tomatoes were also being exported to Pakistan but these were stopped a couple of years ago because of tensions in bilateral relations.
In the open auction, there are no agents or middlemen between the farmer and the buyer. Tomato is the only item sold in this manner and the farmers decide the price for their produce.
The initiative, begun by Gadhave earned him much recognition and appreciation from farmers and governments who wish to replicate this model in their states. The direct auction rooted out the agents and directed the money into the pockets of tomato farmers.
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“When I visited markets in Ludhiana, Kota, Delhi and Lucknow, I realised traders were looting us. So we decided to form core committees of tomato growers in each village and invited buyers from these places. On the first day of the auction in 2005, the turnover was `3.2 crore. By 2014, it touched `191 crore,” says Gadhave, adding that now the auction runs on its own.