Tomato growers in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district have decided to deny Pakistani people the taste of the tangy vegetable in retaliation to what they say neighbouring country’s sustained hostilities towards India.
Hundreds of farmers from Petlawad development block in the district took a collective decision to stop exporting their crops to Pakistan in protest against September 18 attack on an army camp in Uri.
India blames Pakistan-based militants for the attack that killed 18 soldiers on September 18.
“Why should we flavour their (Pakistani people) food, when their country is continuously backstabbing us and sending terrorists to kill our soldiers,” Nathulal Lal Patidar, a tomato grower, told the HT on Wednesday. Patidar is also a member of the Tamatar Utpadak Sangh.
There are more than 5,000 big and small farmers, mostly in district’s Petlawad tehsil, involved in tomato farming. Before Uri attack, they used to send around nine to 10 trucks carrying 150 tons of tomatoes daily to the neighbouring country (Pakistan) through Wagah border via Amritsar or Delhi. It takes 20 to 36 hours, depending on the routes they take, for the consignments to reach the neigbouring country.
Jhabua farmers used to charge between`600 and `700 per box, but now they are ready to sell their crops at a cheaper rate.
Tomatoes are a staple in Pakistani cuisine, used as a base for cooking curries.
The farmers also demanded that India should scrap the most- favoured nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan even if it hurts their business interest.
“We are ready to incur heavy loss in the event of India withdrawing MFN status to Pakistan. For us, country first,” Patidar said shouting anti-Pakistan slogan.
India granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996. The agitated farmers also demanded that government should explore new market instead of depending on Pakistan.
“There are several other middle-east countries where we can export our crop. Though prices will be relatively lower, we don’t mind that in the interest of greater national cause,” said another farmer Lal Singh Choudhary, 55.