Farmers selling their tomato produce at an open market at Gabura in Dinajpur Sadar upazila
Dhaka Tribune

Farmers express frustration and say they are not getting fair prices for their produce

It’s another bumper yield of tomatoes in Dinajpur this year, with farmers hoping to recover the losses from last year but the lockdown now seems to complicate those hopes.  

Farmers express frustration and say they are not getting fair prices for their produce.

Abdul Halim, a farmer from Sheikhpura village in Dinajpur Sadar upazila, said: “I planted tomatoes on one bigha of land this year in the hope of making a profit. Tomato cultivation on one bigha of land has cost Tk50,000-55,000. But not getting a fair price of tomatoes will prevent me from recovering my cost, rather I will have to count the losses.

As transportation fare has risen, fewer and fewer wholesalers are able to visit district markets to buy them in bulk.

This has caused tomato prices to gradually go down as the supply is high but demand very little. Farmers are now asking for cold storage facilities from the government to recoup any losses they might face in the short term.

The tomatoes that were sold at Gabura Hat, the largest tomato market in the district, located at Sheikhpura union 4 in Sadar Upazila near Dinajpur city, at Tk450-600 a maund few days ago, were sold at Tk200-300 per maund on Monday.

Mominul Islam, a tomato market leaseholder at Gaburahat in Rajarampur village of Dinajpur Sadar upazila, said 500 to 600 metric tons of tomatoes are sent to from their area to different parts of the country in 50-60 trucks every day.

He urged investors, including the government, to help provide cold storage for the tomato to save farmers from having to destroy their yield and from the looming financial losses.  

Md. Azizul Islam, a tomato trader from Dhaka, said 10 to 15 tons of tomatoes is usually transported from Gabura market but because of the lockdown he said: “If the government had proper arrangements for storage and marketing of tomatoes, tomatoes in the area could have been supplied to buyers across the country throughout the year.”

Mominul Islam, chairman of Sheikhpura union No. 4, said farmers in the district would have benefited a lot if there was a tomato cold storage.

Farmers would get a better market price of tomatoes if there was a storage system. For this, he demanded a cold storage system.

Dinajpur Agriculture Extension Department’s Deputy Director Touhidul Iqbal said this time tomatoes have been cultivated in 1,900 hectares of land in the district.

Different varieties of tomatoes are cultivated in different upazilas including Sadar, Fulbari, Chirirbandar, Biral, Kaharol and Bochaganj of Dinajpur.

After planting these tomatoes in late January, they are picked from the field in late March. So the market is full of tomatoes now.

Tomatoes worth crores are sold from Kaugaon, Gabura and Panchbari markets of Dinajpur Sadar upazila every season.

These tomatoes go to different districts of the country including Dhaka and Chittagong.

Due to natural calamities, the import of tomatoes at Gabura market is plentiful, but not a lot of it is currently sold.

Tomatoes are also not going to different areas including Dhaka and Chittagong as before, said the wholesalers, leaving them and the farmers in dire straits as the price of the fruit plummeted on Monday. 

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