Maharashtra farmers throw away tomatoes as prices hit Rs 2/kg

Written by Nanda Kasabe | Pune | Updated: Oct 30 2014, 05:59am hrs
Farmers in some parts of Maharashtra are throwing away their tomato produce. Thanks to the bumper crop and the increase in arrivals in most markets across the state, wholesale prices of tomatoes have fallen to Rs 2-3 per kg.

However, tomatoes are still retailing at R20-25 per kg in most parts of the state, said Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India ( VGAI).

The plantation has been good this time. Due to a bumper crop, farmers in Narayangaon, Manmad and Dindori areas of Nashik are throwing away their produce as they are not getting good prices, Gadhave said.

Farmers are staring at losses since they are getting R2-3 per kg while the production cost comes up to R6-9 per kg. The total loss is around R60,000 per acre, he pointed out.

The tomato market at Narayangaon, which has gained fame for its unique style of an open auction market breaking the shackles of commission agents, is also seeing a reduction in the number of vehicles going to other markets. From 1,200 tonne, which were being sold on a daily basis, just around 100 tonne of tomatoes from this region are finding their way to other markets, he said.

At this time of the year, usually food processing companies approach farmers for tomatoes for making ketchup and they give very low prices to farmers. Since this is a perishable commodity, farmers cannot hold onto the crop for a long time and therefore have to make do with whatever prices they get, Gadhave explained. Narayangaon supplies more than 60% of tomatoes consumed in the country during the four months of the rainy season.

Farmers in Dindori taluka of Nashik who usually harvest around 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh crates a month have been staring at losses. Tomato is harvested from August onwards in Dindori, Nitin Avhad, a farmer said.

This year, tomato seeds have posed an issue and farmers have had to conduct sowing operations twice after the the crop was damaged in the rains. The last season collapsed completely and the new season also does not look good with rains in the region a couple of days ago, he said.

Tomato arrivals at Pimpalgaon in Nashik district, one of the major tomato markets in Maharashtra is currently at 1.62 lakh crates on Wednesday and 2 lakh crates on Tuesday. Prices are ranging between R71 to R251 per crate with the average price at R76 per crate. Prices are falling because of larger arrivals, the official in charge of the tomato auctions at Pimpalgaon said.

At Lasalgaon, arrivals have dropped to 3000 crates with prices ranging between R50 to R100 per crate. Officials here say the season at Lasalgaon is nearing its end while it is at its peak at Narayangaon.Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country.Pimpalgaon, located 25km from Nasik, is the largest tomato market in Asia. Pimpalgaon also supplies tomatoes to other Indian markets like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana. Apart from other markets in India, it also exports tomatoes to countries like Bangladesh and

Pakistan.

In August, farmers said the production of tomato in Narayangaon and Junnar region had fallen by more than 50%. Farmers then said they are making losses. Although the production has picked up in the past couple of months, farmers still have to put up with losses.