In a grim reminder of the plight of farmers in Madhya Pradesh, hundreds of farmers in Dhar district were forced to destroy their standing tomato crop due to the recent fall in prices, in addition to the whitefly infestation.
Adding to their woes, farmers who had spent huge sums on their lands have not received any insurance benefit thus far.
According to available information, more than 250 farmers from various villages of Dhar district are destroying their standing crops over the past 15 days in preparation for the next season.
The dreams of having a profitable season for about 70 tomato farmers from Rajpura village under Amzhera tehsil, 30 from Chalni village and about 150 others from neighbouring villages were dashed after the recent price drop.
Whitefly infestation adds to farmers’ woes
The whitefly infestation, that horticulture experts said has harmed other crops as well, only added to their woes.
Radheshyam Patel, 35, from Chalni village, grew tomato in his one acre agricultural land by spending huge sums, but has now decided to destroy his standing crop.
Patel said he, like many others, had high expectations over speculation of prices rising, but the whitefly infestation and drastic price drop shattered their dreams.
Also, he said many of the farmers had taken out loans from banks and insured the crop under the National Horticulture Crop Insurance Scheme, but that too proved no help during this trying time.
Mohan Mukati, 45, a farmer from Rajpura village, said cooperative and private banks had insured their crop under the scheme, but many farmers are yet to receive the insurance payout.
When contacted, deputy director (horticulture) Ashish Kanesh admitted that farmers, particularly those who grew fruits and vegetables, are facing a hard time this year due to the whitefly problem.
Farmers yet to receive insurance payouts
Regarding the lack of insurance payouts, Kanesh said many cooperative banks have submitted their data, but farmers that took loans from private banks and insured their crop under the scheme are yet to submit any information.
“We are pushing them to submit information at the earliest so they can be paid their dues and benefits,” Kanesh added.
While the ever-present red tape delays payouts, the farmers have no time to sit and wait.
Patel said once the standing crop has been destroyed, the farmers will have just one month to prepare their fields for the next sowing season. Any delay, and the likelihood of having a bumper crop may be lost.