There are hard days for consumers ahead of the monsoon. Retail prices of the commodity are already in the R50-60 per kg range and are expected to go up even higher because of a shortage in the market, top industry experts said. Prices are likely to remain high until the monsoons begin, Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI), said.
Just last month, farmers in Maharashtra had taken to the streets over a crash in tomato prices. Farmers in the state have been getting barely R5-7 per kg from traders and merchants. A bumper tomato crop had led to a fall in the prices of tomato across Nashik and Pune districts in Maharashtra. This had then led to despair among farmers who resorted to dumping the commodity on the roads in protest against falling prices.
According to Shriram Gadhave, the heat wave last month caused the damage at a critical stage when tomatoes and most vegetables were in the flowering stage and dried up, leading to the shortage. The fall has been attributed to the unusually hot weather during April and the first week of May, when the temperature crossed the 40 degree Celsius mark in many parts of the state. This resulted in crops failure.
Gadhave said that although around 80% of the crop had come under drip irrigation, the water table has also gone down because of the drought farmers are unable to water their crops. Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Dhule Satara, Sangli and parts of Marathwada are the main tomato-growing areas of the state. Gadhave pointed out that Narayangaon, which usually supplies to Jalgaon, Nagpur, as well as other states, has not been able to do so this time because of the paucity in production.
The agricultural produce market committee (APMC) market in Vashi has been seeing a sharp jump in wholesale prices of tomatoes from R16-20 a kg last week to R28-32 a kg this week due to shortage in supplies. This has pushed retail prices from R40-50 to R55-70. Market experts attributed the crunch in local supplies to the fact that supplies from Maharashtra have been diverted to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, where demand has increased due to poor production. Most vegetables are sold in the range of R60-120, except for green peas, which are being retailed at R150 a kg. A shortage of supplies in green chillies too has seen the retail price shooting up to R150 per kg and the wholesale price to R90 per kg.