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India's tomato farmers dump crops as lockdown disrupts trade

Asia's 2nd-largest tomato market faces price crash and loses high season

Dejected farmers dump tomatoes after going to the state market and learning about current prices. (Photo by Ranganathan Krishnaswamy)

KOLAR, India -- Kolar, a city in India's southern state of Karnataka, is synonymous with its now-defunct gold fields. Today, the district's key export is "red gold" -- tomatoes being cultivated on over 20,000 hectares. But unlike gold, there are no guarantees in agriculture.

Despite a bumper crop this year, farmers are bitter because prices have crashed on the back of falling demand during the lockdown and restricted movement of traders and goods. A standard 15-kg box, which usually fetches 250 to 300 rupees ($3.40 to $4.10), is now selling for barely 70 rupees -- sometimes as low as 30. Desperate farmers are either allowing their crops to wither in the fields or dumping harvested tomatoes by the roadside.

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