Agri Business

Why harvested soya is in water and tomato on roadsides, in Marathwada

Radheshyam Jadhav Beed | Updated on September 28, 2021

Lacking basic storage facilities, farmers have been forced to dump their rain-ravaged produce

Massive rains over the last few days have inundated farmlands in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, ruining farmers’ hopes of a better yield of soya. Crop ready for harvesting is under water in many villages while tonnes of harvested soya piled in open fields across the region have almost gone rotten. Tomato farmers have dumped their produce along the roadsides as rates plummeted and it has become impossible to recover even transportation price.

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“In the last couple of years, we have lost almost 60 per cent crop to unseasonal rains every year. We have suffered for decades because of perennial droughts and now it is unseasonal rains. Now we get rains even in December. How are we going to recover these losses?” asks Suresh Solanki who cultivates cotton and soya in his five-acre farmland in Beed.

He says that many farmers had harvested soya and were ready to take it to the market. “There are no storage systems in villages. We store soya in open fields and cover it with a plastic paper. In the last few days, fields are under water and soya stored in fields is completely destroyed. The standing crop of soya is also damaged,” he adds.

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“No trader is ready to touch my soya saying that it has moisture. They are saying nobody will take it even for free,” rues Ram Sontakke. He is waiting for a trading company run by the farmer producer company to open its centre at Manjarsumbha in Beed district so that he can sell his soya. He is worried about repaying the crop loan he had taken for soya cultivation.

Not even a tin shed

On Lasur station road in Gangapur taluka, about 40 km from Aurangabad, farmers have dumped tomato in huge piles along the roadside. Farmers have been selling tomato at ₹2-3 per kg in the wholesale market. “Rates have been crashing for the last two months. In rural areas, traders are still buying produce at the lowest rates. We don’t even know at what rate they sell it to the consumers in cities,” says Prakash Gawhane.

“There are no cold storages, processing units or even tin shed to store the produce. Once you harvest, you have to take it to the market. Many times even the transport cost is not covered, considering the price in the market,” he points out.

Functional infra sought

Farmers demand that the government focus on functional infrastructure for collection, drying, cleaning, grading, labelling, packaging and storage at village levels. The Central government launched the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund last year to address the existing gaps and mobilise investment. A medium-long term debt financing facility of ₹1 lakh crore has been provided under Atmanirbhar Bharat package.

“We are not demanding huge infrastructure. Our demand starts from small tin sheds to save our harvested crop from rains. Good roads and quality infrastructure like cold storage and marketing links is a distant dream for us,” say farmers from Kej in Beed who have been demanding compensation from the government for losses they have incurred.

Published on September 28, 2021

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