The suspension of trade via roads between Pakistan and India and the consequent supply glut has sent local tomato prices crashing. Wholesale prices have crashed to some Rs 2-3/kg at Pimpalgaon Baswant and Lasalgaon, key markets in Maharashtra. Even top quality tomatoes are now being sold at just Rs 6-7 per kg. In Nashik district, the prices crashed to a third in just over a week.
Pakistan used to import nearly 50,000 tonnes of tomatoes from India annually and Bangladesh up to 35000 tonnes.
While political tension between India and Pakistan led to the suspension of exports via land to Pakistan, exports to Bangladesh are hit after Dhaka increased the import duty on agricultural produces to 48%.
According to sources, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee ( APMC) chairman Jaydutt Holkar has written to Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and commerce minister Suresh Prabhu, urging them to initiate measures to reopen the border roads for export of agricultural commodities on a permanent basis. He also sought a reduction in export duty so that the Indian tomato can be competitive in the export markets.
Indian tomatoes are exported to Oman, Dubai, Malaysia, Qatar in addition to Pakistan and Bangladesh. With a glut in production, tomato is transported from Nashik to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Tomato prices have been dropping over the past few days in Nashik, Ahmednagar, Pune, Satara, Sangli and Nagpur as kharif arrivals have picked up. Kharif plantations in the Nashik region have grown by over 20%. Last year, growers had received good prices for their produce, which had prompted farmers to go in for tomato cultivation.
In August last year, a 20 kg crate of tomatoes was sold in the range of Rs 900 to Rs1,400 at the Narayangaon market, but now it has fallen to Rs 400.