Agri Business

Vegetable prices decline in Maharashtra

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on May 26, 2020

File photo

Farrmers are forced to sell a 20-kg crate of tomatoes for Rs 70, which was Rs 200 before the lockdown.

Despite farming being excluded from lockdown, vegetable farmers in Maharashtra are suffering heavy losses because of price crash in wholesale markets. Prices of vegetables such tomato, green capsicum and okra have bottomed out, with up to 80 per cent decline in some regions.

Farmers are also wary of taking their goods to APMC markets for fear of contracting Covid-19.

Selling at low prices

There is large-scale cultivation of vegetables in the Mumbai, Pune and Nashik belt, which is also known as the golden triangle. In the last few decades, access to water, fertile land and a good network of roads ensured economic prosperity even among the small-scale framers in this triangle.

Now the farmers are forced to sell a 20-kg crate of tomatoes for ₹70, which was ₹200 before the lockdown.

Vegetable farmer Yogesh Chavanke from Sinnar taluka in the Nashik district told BusinessLine that he has one acre of fertile land with regular access to water. Before the lockdown, he was selling his crop of okra at ₹250/per 10 kg, but today the same quantity is not getting even ₹40.

Chavanke pointed out that he and other farmers cannot simply load their goods in a truck and sell it openly in a consumer market such as Mumbai because local goons demand protection money.

Chavanke said Nashik district itself used to be a good market as tourists from Mumbai and Pune thronged places such as Igatpuri and Deolali for rest and recreation, and Trimbakeshwar for pilgrimage. But, with the lockdown, demand has vanished.

Framer Ananad Patil from Nashik said tomatoes from his farm are fetching ₹70 for 20 kg, which was ₹200 before the lockdown. In Nashik and Igatpuri, there was also good demand for vegetables from small eateries and small stalls selling Chinese food but that source of income has also dried up.

Doubts over relief package

Patil wondered whether farmers would really get any share from the ₹20-lakh crore relief package announced by the Centre.

The General Secretary (Maharashtra) of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Ajit Navale, said that the lockdown started in March when the rabi harvest was over, therefore, it has not affected the grains and pulses farmers. But small vegetable farmers with less than five acres of landholding are stuck with rabi crops, as there are no takers in the market.

Published on May 26, 2020

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