Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tomato turns trash

I have some links with the 'farmer community'. Why some? Good enough! My mother comes from a farmer family. Add to this my father's obsession with sprawling fields, or the fiesty buffalos and graceful cows. So tales of 'how much milk this or that buffalo yields', 'how good or bad was the crop this year' or some such references fell upon my ears when I was growing up.

Back then, when we were merry little children, we were more in touch with the soil. Our trips to the native village are only fond remembrance now: how we used to roam about those farms of tobacco and cotton, and come across stray orchards of guava, banana or mango in between... Of how, with amazing skill, my brother could tell us whose farm we had crossed and whose farm we were now in...Such is the glory of owning land. Hmm, I am diverging from the topic.

Actually, the 'farmer connection', however faint or dis-functional it may be now, also makes me a bit more alert to the news of farmer suicides and yield and transport problems.

I read this trivia on Unfinished dream's blog the other day. The minuscule post led to some brainstorming at least between three or four of those who read the post. The trivia perhaps also led to this one on Baruk's blog. And while the 'trivia' had not entirely got scrubbed off my cognizance, I came across this article titled: 'At 10 paise, tomato turns trash'.

According to the article, farmers have dumped their tomato produce by the cartloads for the birds and beasts to feast on at the Hyderabad-Kurnool highway. Without proper transport or storage facilities, they cannot make any money out of the produce. Either sell at 10 paise, (which in any case is not getting any buyers) or leave them to rot. The bumper yield is now only a matter of concern instead of rejoice. Many farmers have tried to make pickles, and make-shift eateries selling tomato based dishes, but yet, there are not many takers for their innovation. They have now resorted to keeping baskets of tomatoes at temples and getting whatever the takers leave behind as a gift. Click here to read.

See the irony- just the other day, I was moved to write a post about disparity in India after seeing a man asking the price of one small tomato to the vegetable vendor outside my flat. He moved on without buying the tomato for two rupees.

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I read in school that 'India is an agricultural country'.

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-Gauri Gharpure

8 comments:

dharmabum said...

i am crying. i wanna do something. can you help? please?

dharmabum said...

oh, and btw, not sure if u have heard of the tirukkural - they are couplets in tamil, written many hundreds of years ago...one of them roughly translates to -

'they alone live, who do so by ploughing the field, the rest are mere beggars'.

Gauri Gharpure said...

tht's a very beautiful couplet.. i ve seen the hardworking attitude of the farmer community, and this article came as a real big shocker.. i have really no idea abt how we cud be of help directly. but as a journalist, i feel tht getting the article read by many more people and to make them realize how bad the situation really is at the ground level, may help create pressure and consequent action in due time..

zahid said...

i am not much into cows and farming but remember two particular cows givein extra milk...-jersey and holstein !!! dunno wht happened of them...no contact since class IX !!!

but yes....I am buying tomatoes here at 5 per kg and there are rumours of pprice lowering !!!

Fictitioustruth said...

Don't know how many of you have studied economics but in the "Demand-Supply" chapter there is a section which explains why farmers can never make money.

Let put that explanation here in brief -

Price of a product is a function of demand and supply.

When demand is higher than supply the seller can charge higher prices and when it is other way round prices automatically fall.

In case of farmers this translates into when the prices are high that means it was a bad harvest season and that means no money as he does not have enough product to sell.

And when the harvest is good than the supply will overshoot demand and prices would be less.Hence no benefits accrue to farmers again.

It is a classic Catch 22 for them.

That is why in west when the crop is extra good farmers destroy some part of the yield (if you would remember french farmers burning their apples in loads some years back).

Keeping this is mind the government controlled prices (or fixed buying price) is critical for the survival of the farmers. WTO charters need to keepin the mind the economic disparity in India vis-a-vis farmers and why government subsidaries are so very critical for their survival.

You cannot (unlike some economists and 'progressive individuals' love to put) let the market decide everything.

Definitely not the human life.

featherbone said...

@ fictitious

would a cold storage co-op (thinking amul) help these farmers?

Gauri Gharpure said...

yup, i cold storage might help.. one view that came across when i discussed the news with my husband and parents was tht after the farmer suicides in AP, the credits/subsidies given to farmers were considerably increased, but not so with the cold-storage and related failities. so there ws kind of clash b/w the two lobbies, and many cold storage facilities either closed down, or started elsewhere.. in a nutshell, lack of provision of inter-linked opportunities, and the consequent chaos: produce is good, but u cant store, process or transport it, so things are back to square one..

The Tentacles of Thought said...

I read it nd i chose nt to cmmnt nd im nt doing it nw too since ill sound lame since i m nt gud whn it comes to sharing views on social issues.I do agree with whatever u hv written nd with all the cmmnts abv.I hope im nt being insensitive.