From Mexico to Spain to Portugal to India comes the humble tomato

Update as of 3 Dec 2009

The farmers in the fertile Nasik plateau are hardworking and market savvy. Given their proximity to the metropolis nearby, they grow crops based on urban demand, perishability, suitability to their clime and of-course for remuneration. Tomato vines are easily tended vegetables (purists will correct me here and ask me to modify the sentence with fruits), and can yield quite a lot of crop over extended periods of time. Being delicate when ripe, these are picked just before they move along the rainbow colours after blue, from green to yellow to orange to red. The preferred variety is the uniformly oblong Roma or the pulpy, not watery Plum species, though the “native” Heirloom grows here too. The farmers engage labourers to pick the fruit and store in bamboo baskets or plastic crates ready to be transported to the city markets. The generally sanguine farmers keep this routine going everyday, and then settle their accounts with the middlemen who pick up the tomatoes. However, recently, when they noticed that they were being paid less for the tomatoes than was spent by them on the labourers, they were in a quandary. What do they do with the tomato crop that is still growing in their field? They got together and discussed over glasses of nimbu paani¸ local lemonade and finally one of the farmers volunteered. He agreed to use his tractor plough across all the tomato fields and uproot the crop and switch to some other remunerative vegetable, perhaps cauliflower or cabbage. So when the fields were turned, the uprooted vines were left on the roadside for any passing animals to graze upon. The shifty eyed middlemen were shocked by this farmer “revolt” and before they could react, the picked tomatoes had started ripening along the roadside, on their vines. They had little choice, but to pick up the “trash” red tomatoes and load them onto their trucks headed to be unleashed onto vulnerable cityfolk. So tomato prices soared, the produce was substandard, where the urbanites paid heavily for this “must have on shopping list” vegetable while the farmers got nothing. Sad to see how middlemen manage lives of producers and consumers, impoverishing both while enriching his/ her tribe!

The buoyant D Street opened the morning to a green sight. The D Boyz were a happy lot with Good Date Pudding (GDP), and talked of some global snooker games (cues) and the SENSEX looked like tomato fields – all green high up on the Nasik Plateau – between 150 – 200 points up. Then came the shocker of a news – that food inflation was not getting under control, despite reassurances from a “well fed” FM (food minister) and the SENSEX dropped vertically down hurting itself to actually bleed – almost 25-50 points down. It actually stopped the day’s progress at 18 points below previous day, but some statistician who believed in an average living, juggled some numbers to finally end the SENSEX at 16 points up –  17185.  

You all guessed right, the farmers have started harvesting their bumper crop of cabbage and cauliflower and no prizes for guessing how much the farmer makes and how much the consumer pays!



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