May 22, 2021 7:33:10 pm
The lack of predictability in the functioning of wholesale vegetable markets in the country, on account of variabilities in the lockdowns in different states and the closing of retail outlets, hotels, hostels and marriage halls, has resulted in large quantities of tomatoes going unsold in the Kolar APMC market, which is the second largest tomato market in Asia.
Crates of tomatoes were dumped by the roadside in the Kolar region this week after they went unsold in the APMC market which supplies tomatoes at this time of the year to markets all over India. A video of the dumping of tomatoes was circulated on social media.
“We checked on the dumping of tomatoes on the sides of the road and found that they were tomatoes that had remained unsold at the APMC market on account their quality,” Kolar district Deputy Commissioner Dr R Selvamani said.
“We asked our officials to find out and we learnt that out of the 1,200 tonnes of tomato which arrived at the Kolar APMC on Wednesday, as much as 70 tonnes were unsold because they were considered to be of low quality,” the Kolar DC added.
The APMC tomato market in Kolar is the main supplier of tomatoes to states like West Bengal, UP, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and also for exports to countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.
During the current season when farmers have cultivated large tracts of land with tomato in anticipation of good prices, the uncertainties in markets around the country created by the lockdowns has resulted in miscalculations in the timing of the harvesting of crops and a glut in the market, resulting in tomatoes losing quality and saleability, APMC traders said.
Tomato is cultivated in as much as 10,000 acres of land in the Kolar district and tomato produce from as many as five districts in south Karnataka is received at the Kolar APMC tomato market. In recent days, during the ongoing lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the quantity of tomatoes arriving at the market has been between 1,200 to 1,700 tonnes.
On the day when the videos of dumping of tomatoes on the side of the road emerged this week, as much as 1,600 tonnes of tomato had been received at the market. On Saturday, over 3,500 tonnes of tomato arrived at three APMC markets in the Kolar district, according to data for the crop provided by the online data system of the APMCs.
“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 their quality deteriorates and they end up commanding no prices at all,” said C R Srinath, a tomato trader at the Kolar APMC market for tomatoes. Good tomatoes were going at about Rs 200 for a 15 kg box but fourth and fifth quality tomatoes fetch only a few rupees for a 15 kg box, he said.
“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 added.
“Another reason for the wastage of tomato crops this season is the fact that retail sales is restricted due to the lockdown and the hotels, hostels and marriage halls are all shut. There is excess crop and less demand,” the trader said.
Incidences of wastage of the tomato crop are frequently reported from the Kolar APMC due to the vagaries of the market. The lockdown in 2020 also created similar problems.
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