A Madhya Pradesh farmer claims to have sold tomatoes worth eight crores this year. This prompted a visit to his house by the state Agriculture Minister.
In contrast, in many districts across the state, farmers are dumping tomatoes on the road due to low prices.
Minister Kamal Patel arrived at the Sirkamba village in Harda district, which also happens to be his home district, to interview Madhusudan Dhakad, the wonder farmer.
Mr Dhakad says he planted chilli in 60 acres of his land, tomato in 70 acres and ginger in 30 acres. He abandoned traditional crops like wheat and soybeans, hinting to the minister that this is what worked for him.
The minister’s interview with the farmer hit the headlines, but farmers from other districts haven’t been so lucky.
NDTV caught up with Sadu Verma, a farmer, who said, “Exports are blocked that’s why the prices are down. We are not even getting 20% price, incurring heavy losses. We have sold tomatoes for Rs 600-700 per carat. Today we are getting Rs 80-90 per carat; we are in loss for 2 years now.”
In Jhabua, farmers are upset due to low price and have dumped tomatoes on roads.
Not only tomato, papaya is also being sold for Rs 3 to 4 kg. Farmers say, forget the profit, they can’t even recover input costs.
Kalim Sheikh from Khargone is upset over his bumper Papaya.
“Production is good but we are getting Rs 4-5 per kg, we can’t export. For us it’s a big loss, unable to even get the input cost,” said Mr Sheikh.
A state-of-the-art mega food park was built in Khargone in 2016 at a cost of 127 crores, but farmers say it has been of little use.
Senior Horticulture Development officer PS Badole from Khargone said, “Because of coronavirus we are unable to export. That’s why farmers are not getting the desired price.”
Dinesh Patidar, a local farmer, said in Khargone farmers are in trouble. “We do have a food park but it’s of no use for us.”
The problem is also one of storage.
Production of fruits and vegetables has increased by six to eight per cent each year. But there has been no increase in the capacity to store these items which perish easily, they say.
There are 163 cold storages in Madhya Pradesh with a capacity of 10 lakh tonnes but the fruit production is more than 75 lakh tonnes and in 31 districts out of 52 there are no cold storages at all.
In 2018 under Operation Greens scheme, there is a provision of grant of up to 50 per cent for cold storage, but only 15 proposals from the state have been sent to the Centre so far.