RAJSHAHI, Jan 2: Hundreds of farmers of Godagari, Tanore and Paba upazilas are spending a busy time in harvesting of tomato from their fields.
The advanced variety is tomato is fetching a good market price and wholesale tomato traders from across the country are now visiting various villages, specially Godagari villages, to purchase the tomato. In the first week of December, early variety of tomato was being sold at Tk 100 to Tk 80 per kilogramme but the price has now come down and being sold at Tk 40 per kilogramme in various retailed markets of the district.
Several thousand young and elderly men and women are now busy in plucking tomatoes from the fields, ripening those by using chemical, filling those in cartoons and loading the same on trucks in Godagari.
An adult male labourer gets a wage of Tk 350 daily, an adult female labourer gets Tk 200 and a child labourer gets Tk 150 only daily for the works at a tomato field. Female and child workers are mainly seen plucking tomato from the fields while male labourers are seen to colour the tomato with chemicals, packaging those in crates and loading those in trucks.
Rafiqul Islam (35) at Matikata village under Godagari upazila informed, the wages they got for their daily work is meager that is why they were working under contractual basis on Tk 12 per crate. He added, there are 14 labourers in their group and they used to prepare and load 650 to 700 crates of tomato daily and every one can earn Tk 600 daily.
It is learnt, though tomato is cultivated in more or less in all upazilas of Rajshahi, Godagari upazila produces two third of all tomatoes produced in the country. During early winter and winter season, Godagari upazila produces tomato worth several hundred crores of taka. Though during the last consecutive five years, most of the tomato farmers were cheated by the multinational seed suppliers and tomato production falls in the upazila, from this year, tomato cultivation is once again gearing up here.
According to Department of Agriculture Extension sources in Godagari, in 2011 tomato was produced on 4,500 hectares of land. But, in 2012, multinational tomato seed companies supplied adulterated and low quality tomato seeds to the farmers. As a result, the farmers incurred a huge loss in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Being cheated by the seed supplier companies, hundreds of affected farmers abandoned tomato farming in the upazila and they switched to other crops and fruits like Guava and Mango. As a result of such cheating by the multinational seed companies, many farmers still remained reluctant to cultivate tomato further.
Marium Ahmed, Agriculture Extension Officer of Godagari informed, in 2016 tomato was produced on 2,420 hectares of land producing 53,240 tonnes of tomato and now farmers are confidence resumed further and 2,630 hectares of land have been brought under tomato cultivation with a target of producing 57,860 tonnes of tomato.