Pune: The vegetable and fruits farmers are facing crises as the major markets, including Pune, PCMC, Thane, and Mumbai are under COVID-19 lockdown. This has been causing severe wastage, as the produce is left behind on the farm itself.
Shriram Gadhave, the president of Vegetables Growers Association of India, said, "Pune and Mumbai are some of the major markets for fruits and vegetables. Earlier, thousands of metric tonne of commodities would go to these markets. However, due to the lockdown and with markets not being as functional as they used to be, farmers are facing. They are unable to sell their produce."
He further said, "We have started a door-to-door delivery service, but the lockdown poses various challenges. Only five per cent of the total market is being covered today, and 10 per cent of the wholesale market is available to the farmers. However, nearly 80 per cent of the market is not available, and which is why the farmers are facing troubles."
Gadhave, who also has a farm of grapes, had to go around selling his produce using a door-to-door mechanism as there is no market available during the lockdown. He also informed that he is unable to send the unsold produce to the processing industry, as the fruits and vegetables end up perishing at the farm itself.
Another farmer from Junnar, Nilesh Chatur, said, "We are facing huge losses due to the unavailability of the market, and lots of fresh produce is getting damaged at our farms. Pune and Mumbai are major markets for us, and while Vashi APMC is functional again, there are a lot of limitations, and not more than 200-250 vehicles are allowed inside the market."
He further said, "I have one acre of a tomato farm, but the ready produce has nowhere to go. I have left it on my farms, but it will only go waste."
Another farmer from Junnar, Shabbir Momin, also expressed the same concern. He said, "The vehicles for essential commodities come to the village, but they take very little quantity of vegetables and fruits. There is no market for us to sell our produce. I usually grow tomato, onion, drumstick, chillies, papaya, and watermelons. I can only store onion for a little longer, but I need to sell the other produce soon, or else it will perish. Our cost of production was also not covered because we are facing losses in the absence of the market."