Tomato leaves Sindh farmers stew in their own juice

Tomato leaves Sindh farmers stew in their own juice

HYDERABAD: Tomato, an indispensable staple for South Asian curry dishes, whose price in Pakistan once rose to over 400 Rs./kg, has hit rock bottom, mainly due to random imports and abundant crops, which has forced producers to get rid of this perishable goods at one-time prices.

At the newly launched fruit / vegetable market in Hyderabad city, you will see sellers encouraging customers to sell 10-12 kg tomato bags for only 60-100 Rs./bag.

These retailers have also set up their foot sellers of all ages, who with small tomato bags of 2.5-3 kg engage customers to buy this essential food product for Rs25-30 / bag (Rs10 / kg).

These suppliers buy a variety of vegetables and fruits during the auction in the morning and then sell them in the market all day long at their points of sale. They hire minors and older people to sell small bags of specific items and earn Rs500-1000 every day by moving around the fruit / vegetable market all day.

Low-income people from different parts of the city come there whenever they want and at any time or on the weekend to buy vegetables that they store for a week.

Shafeeq Ahmed, a buyer, said he had frequented the new market since its inauguration, especially on weekends to buy groceries, as street vendors sell the same at higher prices.

He said that tomato was an important food that almost all people consume in almost every curry or as a salad, but its shelf life was short. On the other hand, Ahmed said, only potatoes, onions and dried garlic could be stored for a long time.

Since tomato, green chili, coriander and other leafy vegetables lose freshness after two to three days at home and should be purchased more often and in moderate quantities. “That’s why I came here to buy tomatoes at a kilogram, which the sellers are reluctant to sell, as they have 2.5-3 kg packs to sell for 25-30 Rs (wholesale).

After witnessing price fluctuations on foods, mainly tomato, green chili, coriander, onions, spinach, etc., Ahmed said among all vegetables that the price of tomato seemed uncontrollable. “The tomato price sometimes goes up while the others go down, but consumers take it at any cost,” Ahmed said.

This winter tomato pouring into the market comes from Thatta, Sujawal and Badin districts in Sindh province, where farmers claim to have spent Rs50,000-60,000 per hectare for cultivation. They pay 12,000-13,000 Rs for just one hectare of seed, in addition to the cost of tractors and expensive manure.

But after the rates for favorite commodity went into free fall, they are left with no choice but to feed it to animals.

Ismail Hingorjo, a producer and trader of Jati, Sujawal district, said several small farming families grow vegetables, mainly tomato, green chili and onions for the market, hoping to make better profits.

Farmers are very attentive and grow tomatoes in three phases, remembering the availability of water and weather forecasts to avoid losses, according to Hingorjo.

“The first tomato crop grown in August 2021 fortunately gave some farmers some reasonable prices. But suddenly heavy rain in September destroyed the crop and left the farmers helpless, ”he said.

The second crop, he said, grown in October, came under the stress of falling prices.

He has been dealing with markets for the last 40 years as a vegetable producer and trader and seems optimistic about the third crop, which was grown in late November through low streams in streams and is expected to reach the market in February and March 2022. , given the weather remains favorable.

“But again, it’s up to marketers how they create demand for local products and benefit farmers,” Hingorjo added.

He said they produced fresh food to meet the needs of local consumers, but in return they were treated differently.

According to him, it is an artificial phenomenon to deprive local producers of their right (to get proper prices on their product).

The frustrated farmer claimed that the public authorities were in cahoots with the marketers who received imported tomatoes from neighboring countries to the disappointing local producers.

He shares background and said that as tailmen they received water for six months, starting from May to October for agriculture.

Reports collected from the areas show that despite falling prices, farmers are picking tomatoes to sell them for Rs50-60 / 14 kg bag.

Researchers believe that tomato crops are economically viable for smallholder farmers who have grown it happily for generations, but they do not have access to processing technology and added value.

For example, according to them, Sindh produces more than 10,000 tons of tomato each year by growing it over about 150,000 acres.

When looking at the prevailing situation where the price is quite low and the larger quantity will be wasted, processing units with packaging and value-adding facilities help the farmers to make money through marketing.

This crop is grown twice a year, summer and winter in Sindh. Farmers in Thatta, Sujawal and Badin produce it in the winter. Punjab and Balochistan are not producing this crop this season due to extreme cold.

Tomato is an important food crop, but in the last few years, Sindh farmers have faced problems such as unstable prices, losses due to water scarcity and extreme weather. Sometimes tomato farmers earn Rs 200,000-300,000. pr. hectares, while falling prices or rain are destroying crops in the fields.

In local markets, the price fluctuates drastically between Rs200-300kg and Rs10-20 / kg (by street vendors).

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