Amid Tomato Glut, Maharashtra Farmers Worry About Recovering Costs

From Rs 100 a kilo in July last year, the prices of tomatoes have crashed to less than Rs 10 a kilo in the retail markets this season.

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Tomato farmers in Maharashtra are unable to recover losses following a glut.


Mumbai:  "Free tomatoes for whoever wants." A farmer couple in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra is giving away his tomato harvest for free. Those passing by their field in Deul village can see a notice in Marathi, which they say, has been put up to show their frustration after the tomato glut this season led to a price crash.

The 39-year-old farmer, Madhukar, and his wife Sunita Shingane took a loan of Rs 3 lakh to grow tomatoes and they spent over Rs 4 lakh in total for the harvest. But they say it seems unlikely they will be able to recover the money.

"We have thrown away 5,000 crates of tomatoes grown on our two-acre land. The production and the labour costs have not been covered . All our money was invested in farming, and now, we are driven to the verge of committing suicide," Sunita says.

In February, at a political rally in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used an acronym "TOP" to stress that farmers were his top priority. "TOP", according to the prime minister, stood for "Tomato, Onion and Potato". But while farmers still have no minimum support price or MSP to fall back on, even bumper crop in Maharashtra has led to severe losses and distress sale.

From Rs 100 a kilo in July last year, the prices of tomatoes have crashed to less than Rs 10 a kilo in the retail markets. In Mumbai, a vegetable vendor, Munna Sonkar, has been selling tomatoes for years. He says the prices have never been so low in the last five years. "If I am selling the tomatoes for Rs 10 per kg, you can imagine the extent of price crash. We are buying the tomatoes for Rs 5 to Rs 6 (per kg). The farmer won't even get Rs 1 (in return)," Sonkar says.

Amid a growing discontent among the farmers due to the tomato glut, they say they are now looking towards the government for some assistance. But so far, there has been no word from the authorities concerned on the situation.


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