Tomato prices in Tamil Nadu soar past ₹100, govt steps in with subsidised variety
With tomato prices soaring due to the northeast monsoon induced downpour earlier this month, the Tamil Nadu government has started the process of selling tomatoes in the price range of ₹85 and ₹100 per kg through state-run farm fresh outlets in 12 districts including Chennai from Wednesday. The state cooperatives department said in a statement that they are procuring 15 metric tonnes of the vegetable every day for this purpose.
“The government is making efforts to supply tomatoes at a lower price to the public. Until this afternoon, 8 MTs of tomatoes were sold in these markets,” minister for cooperatives I Periyasamy said in a statement. “Until Tuesday, a kg of tomatoes in the open market was ₹140, and due to this move by the government, on Wednesday it is around ₹90-100 per kg. Similarly, the prices of other vegetables have also come down,” he said.
On Wednesday, Chennai’s main wholesale market saw tomatoes selling for ₹120 per kg while in other markets it had touched ₹140. Tamil Nadu primarily receives its tomatoes from two regions in Karnataka and three regions in Andhra Pradesh, says advisor to the Koyambedu Wholesale Vegetable Traders, V R Soundararajan.
“Usually, during the northeast monsoon, there is a gap in the rainfall in various parts of Tamil Nadu. But this time, there was heavy rain in all the southern districts at the same time. We have not experienced a situation like this in 30 years,” says Soundararajan.
He said that it was not just tomatoes that were affected. “Tomatoes, brinjal, ladies finger reach Koyambedu from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and because of the rainfall, the crops are damaged, transport is affected so our supply has dwindled,” he said. After tomatoes, the vegetables that cost the highest per kg in the retail market are ladies finger ( ₹80), beans ( ₹71), brinjal ( ₹72).
K Pushparaj, a small vendor who supplies fruits and vegetables door-to-door said that he has stopped purchasing tomatoes from the wholesale market. “Tomatoes have become a luxury for some so a few residents have stopped buying it,” he said.
The prices have been steadily increasing since the arrival of the northeast monsoon in the state in October and have skyrocketed since heavy spells of rain caused severe damage in Chennai, delta districts and southern districts. Between November 6 and 7 and on November 11 Chennai received 21 cm and 16 cm of rainfall respectively. From October 1 to November 18, Chennai and Tamil Nadu received 66% and 61% of excess rainfall.