DHARWAD: The short supply and increased demand for tomatoes have helped middlemen and retailers make huge profits. Farmers are unable to reap the benefits and consumers are feeling the pinch.
As farmers can’t sit for an entire day in the market to sell their produce, they sell the harvest in wholesale market at a price demanded by the middlemen.
Middlemen get a maximum of 70% and minimum of 50% profit for the tomatoes brought by farmers. Seeing the demand for tomatoes, middlemen and retailers have hiked the prices. Few farmers said middlemen decide the price to a large extent.
“We toil in fields but the profits are taken away by others. As tomatoes can’t be kept for more than three days, we have to sell it at the best available price,” said a farmer in Dharwad.
“We sell a basket of 8kg tomatoes for about `350-`450. We also have to pay for transportation and labour charges. But in the retail market, the same tomato is being sold at `100 per kg. We sell tomatoes to middlemen as they take the entire quantity at one go,” he added.
Horticulture Department deputy director S B Diddimani said, “Vegetable prices go up every year. But this year, the prices have gone too high. They may come down and get stabilised in another 15 days.”
“Scarcity of rain and decrease in sowing areas are the reasons for price hike. Once tomatoes from districts like Belagavi and Kolar start arriving in the city market, the burden of price hike will be eased,” he added.
The middlemen at the APMC yard say they are blamed whenever the prices go up. “Many retailers buy produce on credit. We pay labour charges to distribute the vegetables. We hardly get `50 to `60 profit a basket,” they said.
Potato farmers in Hassan a worried lot
Hassan: Potato farmers in Hassan are a worried lot as they incurred crop loss consecutively for five years. Moreover, the growing area of potato by small and medium farmers has been drastically decreased from 61,000 hectares to 10,087 in 10 years. Statistics available with Express show that small farmers who cultivate on less than five acres have switched over to alternative crops like maize and ginger due to crop loss. On the other hand, the farmers who are cultivating on more than five acres have leased out their land to Ginger growers. Horticulture officials are anxious as the certified seeds supplied by the department in 1,266 hectares were damaged due to dry spell. The department had brought the certified seeds from Punjab and supplied it to 2,094 farmers at a subsidised rate.The officials had promised compensation if crop loss was reported, but no action has been initiated so far.
Dilemma of Tomato Growers
Every acre approximately needs 50 gram tomato seeds and after seeds start sprouting, they will be planted. Seeds will cost approximately D450 for 50
Fertilizers worth D18,000 is used for one acre of tomato growing field
If everything goes fine, 400-500 baskets of tomatoes will be harvested from an acre
Transportation costs are extra and labour charge is D150 per day