Wholesale tomato prices in Maharashtra have crashed to R2-4 per kg as against R15 per kg same time last year due to oversupply of the vegetable in the state.
Lack of demand from other markets across the country has led to this glut, say experts. The price of tomatoes in the wholesale market at Vashi fell to R2-8 a kg on Tuesday, with the normal quality selling for R2-4 per kg and the good quality for R7-8 a kg. In retail markets, good quality tomatoes are available for a maximum of R15 a kg. The situation is similar across other parts of the state.
Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India ( VGAI), attributes this price crash to low demand and increase of tomato production in other states. Good production of the crop in Maharashtra has led to a fall in the prices in both the wholesale and retail markets.
It may be recollected that tomato prices had almost touched Rs 100 kg in the past couple of years. Although there has been a rise in acreage by around 15%, the production per acre has dropped down, Gadhave said.
Although there has been less rains, the rainfall from last year had resulted in a good water table and this has led to farmers to go in for tomato plantation. Over 3 lakh hectares have come under tomato cultivation in the state and therefore production will be above expectation,” he said.
According to market experts, productivity has gone down to 200-300 crates per acre as against 800-1000 crates in normal conditions.
Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country. Pimpalgaon, located 25 km from Nashik, is the largest tomato market in Asia. Pimpalgaon also supplies tomatoes to other markets like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana. It also exports tomatoes to countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.
This season, tomatoes have been cultivated by farmers in Narayangaon near Pune, Nashik, Beed and Pusegaon among other areas. In Narayangaon alone, around 18,000 acre has come 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 tomato season lasts from June to October every year. In Nashik, another tomato growing region, the season starts from August to September.
According to APMC officials at Pimpalgaon, usually 50-60 truckloads of tomatoes are transported to southern states this time. Although it seems like there is a glut in the market, in reality, the production has gone down, senior officials said.