A video of a visibly angry and frustrated tomato farmer throwing his produce in front of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) office in Niphad, Nashik, went viral in Maharashtra on Tuesday.
“What is the use of these tomatoes if the price of a crate is only Rs 5? Farmers are not getting even peanuts; the loss is in lakhs as the rates have crashed. This happens every year,” a fuming Ankush, who dumped almost 20 crates, says in the video.
Maharashtra’s tomato producers have been totally washed out this season. Be it Niphad or Khed (Pune) or Pandharpur (Solapur), the price of a crate, which has 20 kg of tomatoes, has tanked to Rs 5-Rs 7.
“The Maharashtra government needs to intervene immediately. Farmers must get, at least, Rs 10 per kg of tomato, which means a crate should cost a minimum Rs 200. This is the only way to recover production cost,” said Dr Ajit Navale, general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha in Maharashtra, told Newsclick.
In another video from the Pandharpur APMC, an agent who delivers vegetables and tomatoes produced by farmers to the market makes a sarcastic comment on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign slogan of ‘Achhe din aane waale hain’. “You wanted to see achhe sin? Here are acche din—Rs 10 per crate of tomato. Sell it or throw it on road, the price will be the same,” he says angrily.
There are two reasons for the fall in tomato prices. The APMCs were flooded with tomatoes, which perish in four to six days, as farmers tried to save their produce from the excess rainfall in the state this year.
“Have people stopped consuming tomatoes? No. The government should immediately intervene, stabilise the prices by buying the produce and go in for auction—or, at least, it can ask traders to buy their produce at some respectable price,” senior agriculture journalist Maruti Kandale said.
Farmers having more than 10 acres prefer to grow sugarcane or rice. Only small farmers with 2-3 acres grow vegetables and tomatoes. According to the agriculture department of Maharashtra, there are 47 lakh small farmers in the state who have less than 2.5 acres.
As per the state agricultural marketing department, around 25-30 lakh farmers produce vegetables every year. The fall in price of tomato has mainly hurt the small farmers of the state.