From Rs. 10 per kilogram two months ago tomatoes have been selling at Rs. 80 a kilo and above in the past few days, despite Delhi government insisting on July 20 that there’s no shortage and supply is better than last year. Traders say that the vegetable may become affordable again only after a month.
Blaming the heavy rains in key supply states, dealers say the quantity of tomatoes coming in from Himachal Pradesh has been so low that its price has shot up to nearly Rs. 50 per kilogram in the wholesale market. This rate builds up to Rs. 100 per kg in the local markets with transportation cost, retail profit and area profile factored in.
The wholesale price in early July was as low as Rs. 3 per kg.
“Tomatoes come from Himachal Pradesh in this season. But, because of incessant rains, the crop was damaged at many places. We should start receiving supply from Maharashtra and the southern states this month,” said Rajendra Sharma, member and former chairman of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), Azadpur. There is no artificial shortage, he insisted.
According to APMC records, arrival of tomatoes at Azadpur mandi has gone down from 13,449.3 tonnes in April to 8,542.6 tonnes in July (till Wednesday).
Unlike food grains, tomato is a perishable item and less prone to hoarding.
Traders acknowledged that the vegetable even sold for Rs. 5 or less in the wholesale market during the peak season, between April and May.
“Many farmers in Punjab and Haryana had to destroy their yield as it was available in abundance and they were not making any profits. And the cost of transporting those tomatoes was much higher than the price of the produce,” said Sanjay Chugh, general secretary, tomato traders association, Azadpur.