Kendrapara: A sharp drop in price of tomatoes has hit the farmers hard in this district, a report said. The vegetable was being sold at very high price of Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kg two months back.
However, farmers are now selling tomato to traders at Rs 3 per kg as the price has dropped significantly. Things have come to such a pass that heaps of tomatoes are lying unsold at the local haats as supply exceeds the demand.
Even vegetable sellers are finding it difficult to clear off their stocks. Farmers alleged that this has happened due to lack of cold storage and government mandis in the district and they are forced to resort to distress sale.
Excess stocks could be sold to sauce and ketchup manufacturing units. Ratikanta Sahu, a farmer of Nahang under Derabish block, said this year there has been a bumper harvest.
However, the farmers are facing trouble in selling the produce due to lack of proper marketing facilities. The vegetable is now being sold at Rs 6 per kg in the market but traders are only paying them Rs 300 per quintal.
They are forced to resort to distress sale as there is no provision of conservation for their harvest. He apprehended he will incur a loss of around Rs 10,000 this year.
Biren Kumar Das of Pattamundai said several migrants returned to the district due to spread of Covid-19. Tomato price was then rising for which the local farmers as well as migrants cultivated the crop in 30,000 hectare of land.
The farmers reaped a bumper harvest but have failed to conserve it due to lack of cold storages. The tomato price has fallen as the government is unable to provide marketing facilities. Ratanlal Samal, a local entrepreneur, said, “Farmers resort to distress sale after harvest of tomato and potato for lack of marketing facilities.”
He contacted several banks and the district industries centre (DIC) for a loan to establish a sauce and potato chips manufacturing unit, but failed to avail a loan.
Farmer leader Gayadhar Dhal said, “There is very little help available from the government. The problem can be resolved if the government establishes cold storages, food processing units and government mandis in the district.”
Sub-Collector Niranjan Behera said, “The state government is laying stress on construction of rural cold storages and recently a solar powered cold storage was inaugurated at Chandanpur in Kendrapara block. Moreover, 50 per cent subsidy is being provided to the farmers if they construct a cold storage at their residences.”