At the crack of dawn, if there is life in Madanapalle it is at the tomato market. It buzzes with life: farmers bringing their harvested crop from the farms to the market, and tomato dealers occupied in weighing the tomatoes and transacting the payments, and the lorries (trucks) carrying the tomatoes as far as to Mumbai by the Arabian Sea to Chennai by Bay of Bengal and as closer cities and towns like Bengaluru and Hyderabad and Vijayawada. By the time the sun is up and before forenoon it will be a calm place.
The tomato market in Madanapalle is one the biggest tomato markets in India, and in Asia, and also in the world. It gathers tomatoes cultivated by small-scale and marginal farmers in the surrounding villages of Madanapalle, and also from Chittoor and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh. The market is spread in about twenty acres of land and it is located in the centre of the city. It is the largest tomato market in Andhra Pradesh.
According to downtoearth.org.in, Chittoor district in India is the largest cultivator of tomatoes. The tomato yard in Madanapalle in Chittoor district holds about 1000 tonnes of tomatoes.
K. S. Sathish Kumar, a dentist in Madanapalle, says the market gives employment to hundreds of people especially the daily-wage labourers. He says the market yard should be protected from land grabbers and basic facilities for workers should be provided on the yard.
For a tomato cultivator, cultivating tomatoes is almost similar to gambling. Because the tomato crop has to withstand the vagaries of the climate, and the price of a kilo tomatoes fluctuate all the time.
Bandlapalli Madanamohan Reddy, a social activist and farmer, says the local politicians should consider to establish a tomato-processing centre such as to produce canned tomatoes. He says most of the time, tomato farmers lose their investments and also end up in the debt-trap. He opines the farmer could only benefit if there is a fixed price otherwise it could be akin to gambling. He informs that tomato market sends tomatoes to three state capitals and also to places such as Pune, Delhi, and Hyderabad. He sees a potential to establish tomato food-processing centres, and packaging mechanism for tomatoes so that the farmer and the buyer would benefit mutually.
To visit Madanapalle’s tomato market is one of the top 12 things to do in Madanapalle: a walk in the tomato market, or purchase tomatoes. You can see tomatoes brought by farmers from their fields to the wholesalers, how tomatoes are bought and sold, and experience how 1000 daily wagers make a living out of working in this yard.