DHENKANAL: A bumper crop notwithstanding, tomato farmers of Dhenkanal district are staring at a massive loss. Despite Government assuring that farmers will be provided passes to sell their produce in markets, that has not been the case here. With weekly haats (markets) closed and transportation stopped in wake of Covid-19 lockdown, the harvested crops are rotting in farm fields. Worse, the district has no cold storage where the helpless farmers can stock their produce.
This crop season, tomatoes were grown in Hatibari, Sankarpur, Pamal and Kamakshyanagar. Farmers usually sell their stock in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Angul and local markets. Although farmers got a bumper yield in March, they have been unable to sell the produce as neither wholesalers turned up to procure the vegetables nor could they take the stock to markets in the absence of passes. In some areas, farmers have not been able to harvest the crop as a result of which, a majority of it has been damaged.
Farmers in Hatibari village under Gondia block currently have over 250 quintal of unsold tomatoes. “Buyers are unable to come to our farms to lift the stock. Administration is yet to allow us to take the stock to markets and there is no way, we can send the tomatoes to Cuttack or Bhubaneswar”, said Satrughan Tarai, a farmer of the village.
Pumpkin stocks piling up
Similarly at Shankarpur village, 12 km away from Dhenkanal, pumpkin stocks are piling up sans buyers. Here, farmers had grown pumpkin on 33 acres of land and harvested 55 tonne recently. After lockdown was imposed, farmers could not sell the produce. To save the crop from elephants, farmers collected the pumpkin stock and kept it in a fenced orchard.
“We are guarding the stock round the clock but how long can we do so? A large chunk of the stock has already been damaged in the last fortnight”, said a farmer Prashant Behera. Farmers said unless the district administration issues them passes to go to markets, the entire stock will be damaged.Horticulture officials, however, expressed their helplessness in dealing with the situation. “We cannot go on field visit now for the lockdown but we have informed the higher authorities about the problems farmers are facing”, said horticulture officer Bhagban Dash.
250 quintals of tomatoes are lying unsold in Gondia block of Dhenkanal district
Tomatoes were grown in Hatibari, Sankarpur, Pamal and Kamakshyanagar blocks of the district
Farmers usually sell their stock in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Angul and local markets but it has been stopped since the lockdown
Pumpkin stocks remain unsold in Shankarpur village
To save the crop from elephants, farmers have collected the pumpkin stock and kept it in a fenced orchard