Ground report: "This rain is a poison for our tomato crop"

In the past 15-20 days, the price of tomatoes has doubled. The farmers and retailers blame incessant rains and said rates would go up further if it won’t stop raining

Arvind ShuklaArvind Shukla   27 Sep 2019 12:57 PM GMT

Ground report: This rain is a poison for our tomato crop

Arvind Shukla/ Diti Bajpai

"Where was the media when we were selling tomatoes and onions at Rs 4-5 per kilo? Now when the rates have gone up, you all are here to ask about the price of tomato and to know how much have we suffered because of heavy rains?" asked an angry Kalpsen Keshav Thumre, 22, a farmer who had come to sell his tomatoes in the Pimpalgaon vegetable market in Nasik district of Maharashtra.

After July 25, heavy rains have caused massive damaged to the tomato produce, say farmers. In the past 15-20 days, the prices have doubled.

"The media is creating a ruckus as onion prices have skyrocketed. Now, when the price of tomatoes has increased, they are fussing about this too. But nobody is willing to know the reason behind our suffering. Because of continuous rainfall, 70% of tomato crops have got damaged. We don't have good produce; the farmers won't earn anything from high prices," asked Kalpsen.

Nashik in Maharashtra is known for the production of onions, grapes, and tomatoes. Here tomatoes are cultivated in a landholding of 1.25 lakh hectares and farmers have adopted modern methodologies to grow tomatoes. However, this year, tomato farming has suffered huge losses because of heavy rainfall, which has led to sky-high prices.

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On September 25, a total of 50 trucks, small and big, unloaded tomatoes at India's largest tomato market at Pipalgaon. This quantity was too less compared to the other days. This is why the wholesale price has touched Rs 500-650 per carat (20 kgs) on Wednesday.

Pappu Sheedey, a farmer in the Chandwad area in Nasik, lost his tomato produce, which he had cultivated on his four-acre landholding. He said, "Tomato farming was good this year. I hoped to earn handsomely. But due to heavy rains, my tomatoes got damaged. Now we will get a nominal price."

"We may get good rates this year, but we won't get any compensation for the loss we suffered last year. The farmers are already in debt. Though tomatoes are fetching a good price, the production is poor. Its quality has worsened. The retailers who would buy the produce and then sell it elsewhere are not taking any chances as the goods would get damaged by then," said Anil Johar, a farmer.

Not just the farmers, the retailers, small and big, are also suffering because of monsoons. Rashid Ali, a well-known retailer in the Pimpalgaon market, works with Adhti Bhimashanker vegetable company, but when on September 25 when Gaon Connection visited the place, it was deserted.

On September 25, a total of 50 trucks, unloaded tomatoes at Pipalgaon. This quantity was too less compared to the other days.

Rashid Ali, 61, said: "We would buy at least 50 tonnes of goods every day. But today we have not bought anything. This keeps happening because we are not earning much. Our expenses are Rs 25,000 per day, but we are forced to shut shop these days."

Rashid Ali, who lives in Amroha of Uttar Pradesh, sells grapes for four months and tomatoes for the next four months. He said, "I am doing this business since 1981. This year has been the worst. Rains have been disappointing. I haven't seen such heavy rains since 1997."

Even before Rashid could complete the discussion, it started raining. "This is not rain, it is poison for tomatoes. It has been raining for the past two days. If this continues, it will damage the rest of the crop too."

Ashok Kumar, deputy chief of Tomato Association in Azadpur market in New Delhi, said: "Tomato supplies have been cut out from Maharashtra due to heavy rains. Whatever tomatoes are supplied, they rot on the way, which is why customers are not buying them. The price of tomatoes has hiked to Rs 50-60 per kg here. If the rain won't stop, the price will continue to increase."

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