Farmers across India are battling a steep fall in wholesale vegetable prices and are forced to discard their produce as a nationwide cash crunch following the scrapping of high-value banknotes hurts demand.
The crash in wholesale prices comes at a bad time for farmers, who reaped a bumper crop and were hoping for good returns to make up for losses induced by two straight drought years.
Last Wednesday, S Raju, a farmer from Anantapur district, brought around two tonnes of tomatoes to Bowenpally market in Secunderabad but had to return home empty handed.
Raju said he spent nearly Rs 4 per kg to raise the tomato crop and it cost him another Rs 2 per kg to transport the produce to Secunderabad, more than 400 km from Anantapur.
But he was shocked when traders at Bowenpally offered not more than Rs 2 a kg for his crop.
Raju realised the price quoted was not sufficient even to meet the transportation cost, as he had to travel back to Anantapur.
Frustrated, he unloaded boxes of tomatoes and dumped them in the market yard, before cursing the traders and market authorities. Some vendors picked up tomatoes for free, while cattle feasted on the remaining dump.
“Apparently, he has come all the way to Hyderabad, because tomato prices came down drastically in Anantapur market,” Srinivas, a local commission agent, told the media.
The situation is similar in other parts of Rayalaseema that are known for production of tomatoes.