Bihar farmers crush their produce to protest against low tomato prices
A farmer said the estimated cost of growing tomatoes on 10 bigha land is around ₹2 lakh but they were not able to recover even one third of the cost in the present circumstances.
A group of farmers in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district destroyed their harvest of tomatoes and other green vegetables for the second consecutive day on Tuesday to register their protest against low prices, not covering even their costs. They claimed to have destroyed crops worth lakhs of rupees grown over an area of 50 ‘bighas’ of land. One ‘bigha’ is equal to around 35,000 square feet of land in the district.
The farmers of Ganj Bazaar and its adjoining areas in the district claimed their tomato crops were not even fetching the wholesale rate of ₹1 per kilogram and some other green vegetables were selling for less than ₹2/kg. They claimed the cost of bringing tomatoes to the market alone is ₹4 to 5/kg.
“I spent ₹15,000 per bigha to produce tomatoes and now I am not even getting ₹5000 for my produce per bigha. We have been forced to sell our produce for less than ₹1 per kg. Hence, we don’t have any other option left but to destroy our produce,” said Shambhu Prasad, a farmer, who claimed to have destroyed tomatoes worth ₹2 lakh.
The drop in demand of tomatoes and vegetables in Muzaffarpur is primarily due to poor off take of stocks by traders from different states due to movement restrictions and lockdowns clamped to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rajendra Prasad, another farmer from the Minapur block said Ganj Bazar was one of the biggest vegetable-producers and marketing venues in north Bihar. “We used to send 20 to 25 trucks of tomatoes to other places every day from here. But the numbers have now been limited to two to three trucks a day.”
He added that the estimated cost of growing tomatoes on 10 bigha land is around ₹2 lakh. Another farmer Sanjay Sah said he was also thinking of destroying his produce of tomatoes grown on around 10 bighas of land. “I had never imagined in my dreams that I would ever destroy my produce with my own hands,” he said.