Happy days ahead for consumers as far as tomato prices are concerned. Thanks to a bumper crop because of a good monsoon, tomato prices are likely to remain on the lower side till May next year, according to industry experts. Currently, wholesale tomato prices are in the range of `10-12 per kg while it is retailing at around `20-22 per kg in most markets. This trend is likely to continue.
According to Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI) president Shriram Gadhave, an additional 85,000 hectares has come under tomato cultivation in Maharashtra because of the good rains.As much as 3 lakh hectares in the state are used for tomato cultivation. This time, however, there has been a significant rise in acreage as well which has resulted in an additional production of some 80 lakh tonne. Moreover, other states have also begun cultivating tomato and have stopped buying from Maharashtra. Delhi was one of the main markets for tomatoes from the state. Since there has been good production in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, these states have been feeding the Delhi market, he said, adding that transportation costs from Maharashtra were high and therefore traders preferred buying from these states.
Usually, one hectare yields as much as 10 tonne. Tomato prices, which had touched all-time high of `120 per kg in July has declined to to `10 per kg in Nashik markets. In Pimpalgaon, one of the main markets for tomatoes in Maharashtra, prices ranged between `61 per 20 kg to `261 per 20 kg to average at `151 per 20 kg. Around 85,680 crates of 20 kg each arrived in the market on Monday.
Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country. Pimpalgaon supplies tomatoes to other markets such as Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana. It also exports tomatoes to countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Tomatoes are cultivated by farmers in Narayangaon near Pune, Nashik, Beed and Pusegaon among other areas. In Narayangaon alone, around 18,000 acre usually comes under tomato cultivation resulting in a production of some 1,400 tonne a day. About 40,000 hectares come under tomato plantation in Pimpalgaon. The season at Pimpalgaon will continue till November-December. Around 1.25 lakh hectare comes under tomato cultivation in Nashik district every year.Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Dhule Satara, Sangli and parts of Marathwada are the main tomato-growing areas of Maharashtra.
Last year this time, high tomato prices had haunted consumers along with the high prices of onions as well. Tomatoes were retailing between `60-80 per kg in most markets across Maharashtra, and the rest of the country as well. Industry observers had then attributed the high prices to the shortfall in rains that impacted the overall acreage by nearly 40-50%.
InApril this year, farmers had taken to the streets after prices dropped below `5 per kg in wholesale markets. The tomato season lasts from June to October every year. In Nashik, another tomato growing region, the season starts from August to September.