Andhra Pradesh

Madanapalle in Andhra pradesh stares at a ‘tomato crisis’

An abandoned tomato plantation near Valmikipuram in Annamayya district on Monday.

An abandoned tomato plantation near Valmikipuram in Annamayya district on Monday. | Photo Credit:

Incessant drizzle, low yield, and an abrupt fall in exports in the last fortnight have turned a bane for hundreds of tomato growers in Annamayya district. On Monday, the arrival of tomato at Madanapalle market, Asia’s largest, was 545 tonnes, with the first variety dseling at ₹19 a kg and the second grade commanding ₹14 a kg. This is against the normal arrival of 2,000 tonnes of tomato a day at Madanapalle market from the first week of August.

Tomato growers in the district said that until the second week of July, a small chunk of the farmers reaped gold, thanks to the exports to the northern States, which bore the brunt of rains. However, due to inclement weather all over the Madanapalle division since mid-July, tomato plantations started were damaged. From the third week of July, the arrivals took a beating, falling from 1,000-plus tonnes a day to below 600 tonnes.

“From March 2020, over 70% of the farmers stayed away from cultivation in Madanapalle due to the COVID pandemic. A similar fate fell on them in 2021. With respite in COVID infections from February this year, more than 10,000 farmers came out of hibernation and took up active cultivation again. They expected to overcome the financial stress, going by the projection of bumper yields and good prospects for exports. But the climatic conditions worked against us,” said Manjunath Kokkanti, a seasoned tomato grower and trader at Valmikipuram mandal headquarters. Incidentally, Mr. Manjunath took the bold initiative of exporting stocks to the northern States in July, getting decent profits.

Another farmer from Gurramkonda observed that Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu showed a sudden spike in tomato yields from July. “Now, they are getting good yields, thanks to moderate weather conditions. This forced us to stop exports from here. Instead of rains, our region is witnessing drizzle and cloudy weather. This has led to huge crop damage,” he said.

Responding to the situation, District Horticulture Officer Ravindranath Reddy said that as against the regular acreage of 9,000 hectares, the cultivation had come down by 30% due to the present climatic conditions. “The new crop pattern will be ready for harvesting after a month. Till then, the daily yields are expected to be low,” he said.

Meanwhile, unable to bear the transportation costs and a big chunk of the crop falling under the third-grade quality, farmers have abandoned the plantations in several parts of the Annamayya district.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 7:18:02 pm |