Kupwara, Sep 22 : Hatchmarg, a small village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, is becoming famous as the ‘tomato village’ of Kashmir. It is proving to be economically significant for the local population with women also making their livelihood from it.
The village grows close to 4,000 quintals of tomatoes annually on 400 kanals of land employing almost the entire population of the area.
As per the details available with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the village produces about 4,000 quintals of tomatoes every year, and of 300 families living there, 280 are associated with this sector.
Around 1,200 people, particularly women, are associated with it. They work together in the fields during harvest and cultivation seasons.
Tanveer, one of the growers using about 6 kanals of his land for tomato production, said. “I have been associated with this work for over five years. I had to quit my studies to feed my family.”
“These are hybrid organic tomatoes and no chemicals or sprays are used throughout the season. The land used for production is close to the forest areas and no harmful chemicals are used; everything here is natural,” he said.
The land in Hatchmarg is very suitable for growing tomatoes, Tanveer said, adding, “We sell all our production in local markets. Some dealers and retailers also approach us.”
Shamshada Begum said she earns her livelihood through this work. “Women in our village earn equally as men. All work together here without any hesitation. This has helped us with a more elevated reputation and regard. We have come out of our homes and defied all the odds to work shoulder to shoulder with the men here,” she said.
The growers, however, raised concerns about lower rates in the market. “Our products are fetching lower rates. The prices of tomatoes were very high some time ago but our product wasn’t ready back then. The government needs to be sympathetic to us and keep in view our handwork. They must come out to help and guide us to head further ahead in our work,” Shameem Ahmad, a grower, said.
Another grower said that they are concerned about the rates given to them by different suppliers and dealers who come from markets. “They usually give an amount on their will without bothering about all the handwork put in place. This is very concerning for all the growers here. We won’t survive if the authorities don’t intervene,” he said.
Shameem suggested that the government can help people make tomato juices for different requirements. They can also educate us about how to save production from getting rotten in case of lower market demands.
“There is also a concept of cold storage units that can help us. The government should help us and guide our youth on how they can achieve success in it,” he said—(KNO)