Heavy rains soar vegetable prices across Karnataka

One of Asia’s largest tomato markets, the crisis in Kolar is stark, adding to the post-Covid pandemic impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai during his visit to Kolar district on Monday. (HT Photo)
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai during his visit to Kolar district on Monday. (HT Photo)
Published on Nov 23, 2021 12:54 AM IST
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BySharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

The wholesale price of tomatoes in Kolar, about 60 kms from Bengaluru, has witnessed a sharp increase up to 140 over the last 15 days, according to dealers from the district, who have also recorded a sharp decline in supply as rain continues to pound the calamity-prone state.

From a wholesale rate of around 5-20 per kg during the end of October, prices are now hovering around 80-140, dealers said on Monday.

“There are two main reasons. One is that due to heavy rains in June and July, several farmers did not go in for sowing, and those who did, got only around half of their normal harvest,” Sudhakar Gowda, who runs KRS Tomato Mandi in the district, said.

“I have seen extensive damage to Ragi, vegetables, horticulture and floriculture crops. Flood waters from Mudavadi irrigation tank has cut-off road connectivity in the area, About 790 houses have been completely or extensively damaged. Agri Crops in 48,333 hectares and horticulture crops in 6966 hectares have been affected, 189km length of roads and 34 bridges have been damaged according to preliminary reports,” chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday after visiting the district.

One of Asia’s largest tomato markets, the crisis in Kolar is stark, adding to the post-Covid pandemic impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

Gowda said that the tomatoes coming into the wholesale market are from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and other regions, and Kolar is contributing just under 10% of its normal supply.

In November so far, Kolar has received nearly 400% more rainfall than usual as the district has recorded 253 mm in the month as against the normal 51 mm, data from the Karnataka Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) showed.

Statewide, there has been a departure of 271% more rainfall in November as Karnataka recorded an average of 129 mm against a normal of 35mm during this period due to the northeast monsoon.

From around 350-450 truckloads of tomatoes per day, the number has fallen to around 50, traders said.

As one of the biggest suppliers of tomatoes to Bengaluru and Chennai, prices have seen a sharp spike with retail going up to 150, depending on the marketplace.

The prices of other vegetables, too, have risen sharply in the recent days, piling on the financial burden not just on farmers, but the consumers, who have to shell out much more for their daily needs.

Ladies finger is now at 130 per kg from 70 about two weeks ago, Beans are at 98 per kg, Onion at 56 and a bunch of coriander now costs 50 from 30 a week ago, retailers said.

Bommai said that there were no dearth of funds for relief operations as 684cr was available with the district administrations across the state.

“A sum of 5 lakh would be paid as compensation for completely damaged houses and 3 lakh for partially damaged houses in three instalments. DCs had been instructed to disburse first instalment of 1 lakh immediately, Bommai said.

He said that 500 crore has been released by the state government for repair of roads and bridges.

According to the Karnataka government, over 347,000 hectares of crops and 30,114 hectares of horticulture crops have been damaged due to the rains in November. The worst affected districts are Kolar and neighbouring Chikkaballpura, which received 500% more rain, data showed.

The opposition continued to attack the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its lackadaisical attitude in reacting to the calamity.

“There are no district-in charge ministers. Since they are not there, no one has gone and surveyed the extent of crop loss. Crops have been damaged, houses have collapsed, cattle have died. There is no survey done to date and they (government) say that since it was raining, they could not do it,” Siddaramaiah said.

He added that the Bommai government was prioritising election-related work like the Jana Swarajya Yatra over the problem of calamity-struck population.

Bommai said that the Yatra was planned earlier and that it would not be right to relate the two separate events.

Bommai had earlier said that since the model code of conduct was in effect, the government could not announce compensation.

Siddaramaiah refuted this and said that the government should speak to the election commission to release compensation as farmers and others were in a lot of pain.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022