Haryana’s Bhavantar Scheme: A mere Rs 12 lakh paid to tomato farmers, price rises fourfold since

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New Delhi | Updated: July 10, 2018 5:59:21 AM

The Haryana government's much-touted price-deficiency support scheme for crops — Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana (BBY) — had got off to a dull start, having paid some 565 tomato farmers Rs 12.07 lakh over the two and half months up to June or an average of just Rs 2,137 per farmer.

Haryana, Haryana Bhavantar Scheme, retail price of tomato,  Madhya Pradesh, CIPHET, Karnal mandi.A BBY-like scheme launched earlier by Madhya Pradesh had come a cropper as costs jumped after mandi prices of key crops like chana and masur plunged far below their respective minimum support prices. (Reuters)

Prabhudatta Mishra

The Haryana government’s much-touted price-deficiency support scheme for crops — Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana (BBY) — had got off to a dull start, having paid some 565 tomato farmers Rs 12.07 lakh over the two and half months up to June or an average of just Rs 2,137 per farmer. While the government paid Rs 4 per kg to the farmers under BBY, the vegetable’s price has since skyrocketed; the current mandi price is Rs 15-16 per kg. Obviously, if cold storage facility was available to farmers, they could have waited till the mandi prices surged and pocketed far better returns than what the BBY offered .

A BBY-like scheme launched earlier by Madhya Pradesh had come a cropper as costs jumped after mandi prices of key crops like chana and masur plunged far below their respective minimum support prices. The state had to seek the Centre’s assistance to run the scheme. Haryana had announced BBY for four vegetable crops promising farmers to pay the differential amount if market rates drop below their benchmark prices. Under the scheme, base prices for both tomato and potato were fixed at Rs 4 a kg and for cauliflower and onion at Rs 5 a kg.

In April and May, farmers in Haryana had to sell tomato at Re 1 a kg, 75% lower than the base price. Had the state government ensured the base price for every farmer, the expenditure would have gone up to Rs 300 crore or thereabouts just for one crop — tomato. The state government had earmarked Rs 500 crore for all four crops under BBY. In 2017-18, tomato production in the state is estimated at 9-10 lakh tonnes, according to traders. The output was 7.63 lakh tonnes in 2016-17, official data show. Because of the proximity to the Delhi market, which is dependent on neighbouring states for vegetables, many farmers have started growing vegetables that fetch better prices, traders said. The area under tomato increased to 31,490 hectares in 2016-17 from 27,610 hectares in 2012-13

With the use of best available technology, tomato can be preserved for a maximum of five weeks after the harvest, said RK Singh, director of Ludhiana-based ICAR-Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering & Technology (CIPHET). He added that if wax coating (as in fruits like apple or kiwi) is used for tomato, the shelf life of the vegetable will increase by two months. Of course, the cost needs to be worked out to ascertain whether the plan makes economic sense.

“The best option is to process tomato so that the shelf life increases and it can be used for a few months,” said Singh. The post-harvest loss in tomato is estimated at 13%, the highest among major vegetables such as mushroom, cauliflower, green peas, onion and potato, according to a research study by CIPHET.

According to Agmarknet data, tomato prices started rising from June 20 onwards and it has now trebled to Rs 15.50 per kg from about Rs 5 per kg on June 15 in Karnal mandi. The retail price of tomato in Delhi market has also increased to Rs 46 a kg on June 25 from Rs 27 a kg on June 15, according to consumer affairs ministry data. “There is hardly any tomato left for harvesting. We would have waited had there been any technology to keep it for a longer time,” said Sohanpal Singh, a tomato farmer in Sonepat district.

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