Farmers resort to distress sale of tomatoes in Odisha. Know why

Bhubaneswar: Even as several schemes are implemented benefitting the farmers in Odisha, the tomato farmers are forced to go for distress sale in the market.

Due to shortage cold storage and lack of transport facility to many parts of the state, the farmers have started disposing their produce at cheaper prices to the vegetable traders and middlemen.

The tomatoes are now available at Rs 8 and Rs 10 in local markets forcing the farmers to bear huge loss this year.

“I had produced tomatoes in 1 acre at investment of Rs 40,000 from bank and additional Rs 25,000 at 10% interest rate from a trader from Andhra Pradesh. I have also borrowed Rs 15,000 for fertilizer and pesticides. But, I faced serious loss. I have not paid Rs 4,000 for payment to the labourers for plucking the tomatoes. Now, I have to sell 25 kg tomato at prices of only Rs 30,” said woman farmer Sabitri Nahak in Ganjam district.

Many farmers like Sabitri in Jharedi Radhagobindpur, Sana Ramachandrapur and Subalaya panchayats on bank of Chilika in the district are facing similar issue.

Hundreds of farmers are forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices without any option to earn bigger from tomato farming. Many farmers have stopped plucking the produce from their farming field as they are unable to bear the payment to the labourers.

Around 90% of population of these three panchayats depends on vegetable farming for their livelihood. Last year, the farmers suffered great loss due to distress sale of tomatoes. The similar situation repeated this year too bringing worries to them.

“The tomatoes and cauliflowers were produced in around 900 acre land in these three panchayats this year. However, the demand for the produce declined towards end of February in the market. The sale also reduced in beginning of March. Even the traders are reluctant to pay Rs 2 per kg for tomato for which the produce yielded in 60 acre in Sana Ramchandrapur, 40 acre in Diandein, 70 acre in Madhurachua and 90 acre in Jharedi have started rotten and disposed in the farming field,” said Sana Ramachandrapur Naib sarpanch Prakash Chandra Nayak.

Sources said that a tomato farmer gets only Rs 8,000-Rs 9,000 at expenses of Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000 per acre land. Around Rs 3,500 is spent towards tomato seeds purchase. Apart from it, the labour charge comes around Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 per acre. The tomato is currently sold at prices between Rs 5 and Rs 7 in Berhampur.

The farmers have been demanding for cold storages at their localities and requesting the government for transport facility to export their produce. However, the administration is yet to take initiatives to resolve their issues so far.

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