The steep rise in the prices of tomatoes in the market is forcing Karnataka farmers to guard their crop in their farm lands for fear of it being stolen. The price of tomato has crossed Rs 100, even going up to Rs 150 per kg in some places. The acute price hike is due to the ongoing monsoon rains in parts of India.
A farmer has lodged a police complaint alleging that Rs 3 lakh worth tomatoes were stolen overnight from his farm in Hassan district. The incident was reported on July 6, from Goni Somanahalli village near Halebeedu town in Hassan. Dharani aka Somashekar filed the complaint at Halebeedu police station, alleging that unknown persons took away 90 boxes of tomatoes worth Rs 3 lakh. The tomato was grown in two acres of land. The police said that Dharani had planned to take the crop to Chikkamagalur market. However, it was stolen on Thursday.
The burglars have also damaged the tomato plants. The incident came to light when Dharani had gone to his farm the next morning. "I have been growing tomatoes for seven to eight years. Never got a good price for the crop. This year I had reaped a rich crop and the price was also good. I thought of clearing my loans but the incident had ruined my happiness," he said.
In order to avoid similar incidents, farmers sleep at their farms and take turns guarding the crop ready to be harvested. This scenario is commonly found in the south Karnataka districts of Kolar, Hassan where the crop is grown in large quantities. The farmers explain that they are erecting tents at their farm land to monitor the movement of the people and vehicles. One box of tomatoes is fetching the price between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 and farmers who reaped a good crop are earning in lakhs.
This comes at a time when farmers had not got a good price for their crop for years. They had even thrown the crop on roads and highways protesting the steep crashing price of tomatoes. Most of the time, the farmers did not even get their transportation expenses met. The farmers worry that when the crop is fetching a very good price, the menace of theft is posing a threat.