KARACHI: Tomato growers criticized the lack of horticultural policies and urged the government to provide the necessary infrastructure for storage and added value along with guaranteed crop sales if they want to continue sowing tomatoes.
Speaking to The News about prices, Atta Chandio, a farmer, said the tomato crop passed its last leg in Badin due to the increased heat. “The fare went up to Rs100 to Rs150 per 15kg a few days ago, but is now selling for Rs50 / 15kg.”
Tomato production has increased in Badin over the last three years. However, price remains an issue as traders are the ones who charge lower prices. Chandio said the lower prices are understandable when production is high, but at the end of the season prices should technically rise.
This instability forced tomato farmers to switch to cotton, chilies and psyllium or ispaghula.
The chairman of the Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Association (PFVA), Waheed Ahmed, said the price of tomatoes varies between Rs5 / kg to Rs400 / kg on the market, which is a big difference.
“Tomatoes grown in the summer in Sindh are harvested in October and September, but due to climate change, now are the months when it rains in the province,” he said, explaining the infrastructure problem as well. “The crops cannot be spread. Needs non-existent cold storage. “
He suggested adopting tunnel farming to avoid losses in case of rain in Sindh and asked for subsidies.
Ahmed urged the government to focus on tomato farming in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as the province is ideal for harvesting during the summer.
“Pakistan grows low-quality tomatoes, which cannot be exported or processed into pulp. The quality includes the bad color, “he said while pointing out the need for seed improvement.
“The world tomato pulp market is worth about $ 6 to $ 7 billion, but Pakistan’s share is almost zero,” he said, urging better policies.
PFVA plans to start an agricultural model, in which farmers will be provided with seeds and a drip irrigation system with guaranteed sales of crops.
Sindh Council Senior Vice President Abadgar Mehmood Nawaz Shah also argued that the quality of tomatoes in Pakistan is poor. “Sold for over Rs200 / kg from September to November, but nobody needs tomatoes from February to April. Although there are provinces which are responsible for policy making after the entry into force of the 18th Amendment, there is no horticultural police in Sindh, “he added.
The federal and provincial governments are responsible for improving seed quality and producing policies so that the necessary infrastructure and mechanisms can be developed to increase yields, add value, prevent imports, and protect farmers, consumers and traders.
Haji Shah Jahan, a trader at the Karachi Vegetable Wholesale Market, said tomatoes
still arriving in large numbers, which will continue for about 20 days from Thatta and beyond. After the harvest it will start in the districts of Larkana and Jacobabad.
He also held the lack of agricultural policies responsible for the suffering of the farmers. “Tomato growers are small farmers,” he said. “About 20 days ago, the price was so low that even the transportation costs couldn’t be borne by the farmers, so they destroyed the crops.”
The sale of guaranteed crops could be a solution to save farmers and also save a production surplus, he added.
He said every government said it would improve the supply chain from agriculture to the market but they did not build infrastructure and did not support farmers.
He said people suffering from lower prices would not grow tomatoes next year and there would be a shortage. It happens every two to three years. “About 10 percent of the people benefit when there is a production shortage,” Jahan said.