BENGALURU: Very soon many Indian and overseas kitchens may be deprived of the juicy red Kolar tomatoes. Reason: The Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission (KAPC) has advised the farmers to stop growing tomatoes and go in for potatoes or onions instead. The suggestion comes in the wake of the worsening water crisis and depleting groundwater levels in the region. The Commission has written to the state and central governments to change the crop cultivation area.
The tomato-growing season is from May to August. Tomatoes are supplied to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, New Delhi, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
Of the total 33,000 hectares under horticultural crop cultivation, 8,000 ha are under tomato cultivation in Kolar. According to horticulture department, on an average, 4 lakh tonnes of tomato per year are cultivated.
“Farmers in Kolar have to go up to 2,000 feet to get groundwater to grow tomatoes. The commercial crop is high in demand, but farmers are suffering,” T N Prakash Kammardi, Chairman, KAPC, told TNIE.
“Farmers in Kolar have to go up to 2,000 feet to get groundwater to grow tomatoes. The commercial crop is high in demand, but farmers are suffering. So we have suggested that Kolar is no more ideal to grow tomatoes. It has also been suggested that the government look into the issue at the earliest as this plays a vital role in crop pricing,” T N Prakash Kammardi, Chairman, KAPC, told TNIE.
CR Srinath, CMR Tomato Mandi, APMC Yard, Kolar, said that the proposal was good. Farmers spend around Rs 1 lakh per acre to cultivate tomatoes. This high investment pays off because tomato is a commercial crop. Of late, the farmers are facing many problems. “Kolar farmer favour cultivating tomatoes because of the soil and climate. But now the groundwater is contaminated with fluoride and pesticides are being used indiscriminately. Earlier, farmers used to grow potatoes. But they turned to tomatoes as this was more profitable. It looks like now the farmers will have to go back to growing potatoes.”
The Commission has also suggested that farmers in the Mumbai-Karnataka region drop sugarcane cultivation due to the water crisis. Since sugarcane is a water-intensive crop, the Commission suggested cultivating onion and jowar. Shivashankar Reddy, outgoing agriculture minister, had agreed in principle to these proposals. Now after the fall of the coalition government, the proposals have to wait for the new government’s clearance.