Andhra Pradesh

Price drop puts farmers in Asia’s largest tomato-growing belt in a fix

A sudden gush of tomato arrivals at Madanapalle market in Annamayya district on Wednesday.

A sudden gush of tomato arrivals at Madanapalle market in Annamayya district on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: BY ARRANGEMENT

Much to the disappointment of farmers, the price of the first grade tomatoes on Wednesday slipped to ₹16 a kg, from ₹96 a kg in May, in the markets of Madanapalle in Annamayya district, Asia’s largest tomato-growing belt.

Coming to the second grade, the price tag stood at ₹11.6 a kg as against last month’s ₹75 a kg. The arrival of stocks was recorded at 1,656 tonnes on Wednesday, compared to 80 tonnes in the first week of May.

The latest development in the tomato trade all over the district, and some parts of Chittoor district, has unnerved hundreds of farmers, who had taken up cultivation in vast stretches, expecting high profits.

Last month, the acreage with ready yields remained below 2,000 hectares. The reasons for low-area cultivation were attributed to lack of interest among farmers coupled with their lingering fears about the pandemic as hundreds of them had suffered heavy losses to the tune of several crores of rupees in 2020 and 2021.

After the pandemic blew over and transportation was resumed, farmers of Annamayya and Chittoor districts began cultivating tomatoes with renewed vigor from May. The gradual spike in tomato prices at the wholesale market from mid-April onwards also contributed to their zeal.

As a result, a vast acreage of about 17,000 hectares is now witnessing the tomato crop pattern at its initial to middle stages. At this rate, the wholesale price is largely expected to come down below ₹5 or even less by August.

But, District Horticulture Officer (Annamayya District) Ravindranath Reddy told The Hindu that it is wrong to think in the negative sense that if the yields grow up, the prices will come down.

“This is but a natural theory of supply and demand. Farmers should aim at enhancing the yields from the present 20-25 tonnes per acre to the possible level of 40 tonnes per acre. Gradually, the tomato will become one of the most favorite and affordable vegetables to the general consumer,” he said, adding that it is, in fact, a happy development that the farmers have fully resumed their operations in the tomato-belt after a lull of two years.

“Whenever the tomato prices go up, a vast majority of the households stay away from the markets. Generally, one kg of tomato would be reserved for a whole week or even for ten days by the households. If the prices are stabilized, this will support a hundred percent of the consumers. Tomato will become an essential vegetable among the households,” the official said.

‘Use this as an opportunity’

Meanwhile, the DHO said that during the monsoons (July till November), the tomato yields would plummet to the minimal levels in the Northern, and Norther-eastern States. “This phenomenon could be better utilized by the farmers of our region through exports. It is the best time for them to improve their yields with scientific methods,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 2:34:41 am |