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Tomatoes go for 30 paise a kg in Kolar

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POURING OUT ANGER: A farmer dumping tomato on the road in protest against lack of remunerative price.
POURING OUT ANGER: A farmer dumping tomato on the road in protest against lack of remunerative price.

Vishwa Kundapura

Farmers are up in arms against the crash in the price of the produce

Farmers are demanding a support price of Rs. 5 a kg

Manipulation by traders attributed as reason for the crisis

KOLAR: “We have to lift water from huge depths since the water table has dipped to about 1,000 feet. Despite our hard work and investment, we are not getting remunerative prices for our produce. The present rates are not sufficient even to meet the transportation costs,” said Kemparaju, a tomato grower.

“Under such circumstances, how can we lead our lives?” Mr. Kemparaju asked.

The question is not limited to Kemparaju but hundreds of tomato growers in Kolar and Chickballapur districts face similar fate.

The farmers in these districts are up in arms against the crash in the prices of tomato. They are demanding a support price of Rs. 5 a kg for tomato.

While the excess production and supply of this vegetable is said to be one of the reasons for steep fall in the prices of tomato, alleged manipulation by traders was also attributed as another reason for the crisis. Coupled with these, the truckers’ strike is likely to aggravate the situation, it is feared.

With the prices of tomato started crashing to as low as Rs. 20 to Rs. 30 for a 15 kg box from Rs. 80 in the beginning of the week, the growers began protesting. The Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha, the Kolar Jilla Raitha Hitarakshana Vedike and other organisations are leading the agitation.

Minister gheraoed

The intensified agitation on Tuesday culminated in gheraoing the district in-charge Minister S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty for more than six hours when he rushed to the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard here.

The tomato growers and the leaders were not satisfied with the statement of Deputy Commissioner B. Shivappa that government had fixed Rs. 2 as support price for tomato and was ready to procure it immediately. The protestors were not even carried away by the proposal of Rs. 3 per kg announced by the Minister. They stuck to their demand of Rs. 5 as support price.

In spite of the proposals by the officials, the farmers had to face a rude shock on Wednesday when procurement was started at APMC yard.

The price offered was only 30 paise a kg of tomato at the time of purchase much to the surprise of already exasperated growers. “While production cost is Rs. 3 for a kg of tomato, what can be done with paltry 30 paise,” asks Holur Shankar, KPRS taluk president.

The agitation site at APMC yard on NH 4 on the outskirts of the town presented violent protests with burning of tyres and dumping the produce on the road.

The protestors even cooked food on the spot to vent their ire against the alleged failure of the government in protecting their interests.

Vehicular movement on the Bangalore-Chennai Road on NH 4 was disrupted for long time owing to the agitation.

Compensation

Raitha Hitarakshana Vedike president Byalahalli Govinde Gowda has urged the Government to provide Rs. 50,000 an acre as compensation to tomato growers to mitigate their woes. “Whenever the support price was announced for tomato, the genuine tomato growers were not benefited.

Hence it is advisable to give compensation of Rs. 50,000 an per acre. In such an arrangement, there will be no scope for cheating,” Mr. Gowda told The Hindu.

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