Farmers in Karnataka’s Kolar have dumped crates of tomatoes by the roadside this week after their produce went unsold in the district’s APMC market — the second largest tomato market in Asia.
Kolar Deputy Commissioner Dr R Selvamani said, “We checked on the dumping of tomatoes and found that they had remained unsold at the APMC market on account of quality… We asked our officials to find out and learnt that out of 1,200 tonnes which arrived at the Kolar APMC on Wednesday, as much as 70 tonnes went unsold because they were considered to be of low quality.”
The Kolar APMC receives tomatoes from five districts in south Karnataka, with the crop being cultivated over 10,000 acres in Kolar district alone.
In the current crop season, farmers had cultivated tomatoes over large tracts and were expecting a good price. However, the uncertainties caused by different states imposing a lockdown as well as retail outlets being shut had resulted in a glut of produce, said traders at the APMC.
“The tomato produce has been nearly four times more than previous seasons because farmers were expecting good prices and sales. The disruption of the market by the lockdown has meant that some of the produce goes unsold for a few days and then its quality deteriorates and they end up commanding no prices at all,” said C R Srinath, a tomato trader at the APMC. He said good quality tomatoes at the APMC were sold for up to Rs 200 for a 15-kg box, but poor quality produce can only fetch a few rupees for the same amount.
As per the online data system of the APMC, the Kolar market has been receiving 1,200-1,700 tonnes of tomatoes per day. On Saturday, farmers brought as much as 3,500 tonnes of the produce.
“The key to getting good prices is in the timing of the harvest. The crops need to be harvested two days before they are taken to markets in states like West Bengal and UP. What is happening now due to the lockdowns is that farmers are not getting clear information on the days when markets in other states will be open. This has resulted in produce coming to the market long before they can be transported and losing quality,” Srinath said.