Farmers were surprised by the sudden drop in tomato prices at the Anantapur wholesale markets. With the price of tomatoes being so cheap, some farmers left them in the fields without harvesting them. A kilo of tomato now costs between Rs.1 and Rs.2.50.
Several farmers in the district have started tomato cultivation, driven by good rainfall in November and anticipating significant returns. The vegetable was grown on 30,000 acres throughout the district. Tomato arrivals jumped in the second week of February, due to the harvest season and a yield of 22 to 25 tons per acre.
Prices have fallen due to increased arrivals from all places and traditional sources of tomatoes in Anantapur. It was a simple economic principle: when there is high supply and low demand, there would be losses. More importantly, with an increase in tomato cultivation everywhere, Anantapur’s tomato exports have been hit.
Anantapur tomatoes are often exported to West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. They are also delivered to Madanapalle, Kollar, Vaddepalli, Vizianagaram, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Bellary markets.
Previously, tomato was a low-investment crop, but recently it has become a high-investment crop. Now the investment is between Rs.30000 and Rs.1 lakh for one acre.
“I spent Rs.5 lakh to grow tomatoes on eight acres. I expected good yields but the moment I took my crop to the market, I suffered losses. I won just Rs.50000 so far.There are still 1000 boxes in the fields.
Initially the deal was 60 rupees per 30kg box but this was reduced to 50 rupees the next day and then reduced to 30 rupees. The trader, however, did not come and lift the crates of vegetables,” Krishna Reddy from Dasampalle told Kalyandurg mandal.
Begala Chinna Raju from Peru in Ramagiri mandal said he and his brother were growing tomatoes on eight acres and expecting good yields. They paid Rs.30000 per acre. “Now I’m not sure I can recoup my investment,” said the discouraged farmer.