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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Tomato prices shoot up after untimely rainfall hits harvest

On Thursday, the average price of tomatoes was Rs 54 per kg in Delhi, according to the ministry’s data, though it was selling for up to Rs 65 in several popular markets.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2019 03:08 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The wholesale price of tomatoes, a kitchen staple, rose 26% on October 9 from a month ago. During this period, the average price increased from Rs 2,641 a quintal (of 100 kg each) to Rs 3,347 a quintal.
The wholesale price of tomatoes, a kitchen staple, rose 26% on October 9 from a month ago. During this period, the average price increased from Rs 2,641 a quintal (of 100 kg each) to Rs 3,347 a quintal.(HT Photos)
         

The price of tomatoes has soared to Rs 60-65 per kg — double the usual rates — in many parts of the country, including the national capital, as untimely rains have disrupted harvests and possibly shrunk output, experts said.

The wholesale price of tomatoes, a kitchen staple, rose 26% on October 9 from a month ago. During this period, the average price increased from Rs 2,641 a quintal (of 100 kg each) to Rs 3,347 a quintal, price data from the Union consumer affairs ministry showed.

On Thursday, the average price of tomatoes was Rs 54 per kg in Delhi, according to the ministry’s data, though it was selling for up to Rs 65 in several popular markets. In Chandigarh, ministry data showed that the price was Rs 58 per kg, while in Lucknow and Kolkata an average of
Rs 60 a kg. In Guwahati, the average price was Rs 65 per kg.

The consumer affairs ministry tracks wholesale and retail prices of 22 commodities nationally, which include three main vegetables: tomato, onion and potato. Many vegetables are under an inflationary spell due to heavy rains during August-September. This has caused supplies to dwindle. Unlike onion, which, too, has seen a price spike in recent weeks — it is retailing at the moment for Rs 60-80 per kg in several parts of the country, including Delhi, after rising sharply in August, as against an average price of
Rs 20-30 during normal availability — tomatoes are not stocked as buffer by the government because they are highly perishable.

Tomatoes sown around July in the southern states are usually harvested at this time of the year, and supplied to markets in the rest of country. “The crop was very good. But untimely rains have hampered harvests and affected the crop in some of these states,” said Major Singh, a horticulture expert at the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research.

Singh said there was no national estimate available of crop damage at this stage.

According to an advisory issued by the ministry to the Delhi government after a review by an interministerial panel, the price of tomatoes “rose sharply since 10 July 2019”.

It said the horticulture division of the agriculture ministry had “indicated” a supply crunch due to rains, which should soon be “back to normal”.

After the July review, it was decided to supply tomatoes at a retail rate of Rs 40 a kg through Mother Dairy outlets.

“Arrivals are 25% less from southern states, while sowing of the winter crop will take place now. This is the main reason for higher prices,” Vivek Patil, a wholesaler at the Lasalgoan Agricultural Market Committee in Maharashtra said.

To mitigate the shortfall in availability of tomatoes in Delhi, Safal has agreed to provide tomato puree from all its outlets in Delhi at Rs 25 per 200 gram pack which is equivalent to about 800 grams of Tomatoes. Another larger pack worth 825 grams worth Rs 85 will also be made available which is equivalent to about 2.5 kg of tomatoes.

The ministry said it had asked four major tomato producing states — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh —- to take steps to boost supply.

The price of potatoes, on the other hand, have largely remained stable because it is not highly perishable like tomatoes. The average wholesale price on October 31 of potatoes was Rs 1,442 a quintal, while on September 30, the rate was Rs 1,447 a quintal.

Harvests of the country’s main summer onion crop have been delayed too, pushing up the price sharply last month.

As an HT report on October 1 pointed out, onions are the second most consumed vegetable in the country after potatoes. An average Indian household spends 13% of its total vegetable bill on onions alone. Potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in India, with a share of 20% in total vegetable spending.

The consumer affairs ministry, in an official statement Thursday, said Safal outlets in Delhi would supply tomato puree at Rs 25 per 200 gram pack, which is equivalent to about 800 gram of fresh tomatoes.

The representatives of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare informed that supply has been hit due to incessant rains in Maharashtra and Karnataka and it will normalize in the next 10 days as monsoon rains are already receding.

First Published: Oct 10, 2019 22:56 IST

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