Tomato prices plunge from Rs 80 to Rs 15 in Maharashtra; find out why

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Pune | Updated: August 23, 2016 7:18:39 AM

Consumers can finally heave a sigh of relief. Tomato prices that had gone up to as high as R80 per kg last month have dropped to R15 per kg because of good rains.

Tomato, tomato prices, commodity prices, tomato, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, West BengalConsumers can finally heave a sigh of relief. Tomato prices that had gone up to as high as Rs 80 per kg last month have dropped to Rs 15 per kg because of good rains. (Reuters)

Consumers can finally heave a sigh of relief. Tomato prices that had gone up to as high as Rs 80 per kg last month have dropped to Rs 15 per kg because of good rains. A glut in tomato production across several states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, has seen prices of the vegetable drop to as low as R4-5 per kg in the southern states and around R15 per kg in Maharashtra.

In Pimpalgaon — one of the main tomato markets — prices have averaged at around R15-16 per kg and some 34,980 crates of tomatoes arrived in the market. Each crate contains at least 20 kg tomatoes.

According to Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI), the area under tomato cultivation has gone up and has more than doubled because of good monsoon. The water table has gone up and as a result, the production has also more than doubled, Gadhave explained.

Usually farmers in Maharashtra plant the kharif tomato on around 3.5 hectare and this area, according to Gadhave, has gone up to over 5 lakh hectare.

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 J&K, these states have been feeding the Delhi market, Gadhave said, adding that transportation costs from Maharashtra were high and therefore traders preferred buying from these states. Usually, one hectare yields around 10 tonne. He expects prices to hover around the level of R15-16 per kg in wholesale markets until the start of the new season.

Just three months ago, 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. This had then led to despair among farmers who resorted to dumping the commodity on the roads in protest against the falling prices. This was followed by extreme heat during summer, resulting in crop failure on fears of another monsoon setback. However, there were timely rains and the acreage under tomato rose.

Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Dhule Satara, Sangli and parts of Marathwada are the main tomato-growing areas of Maharashtra.

Gadhave pointed out that Narayangaon, which usually supplies to Jalgaon, Nagpur and other states, has now begun supplying to Pune and Mumbai markets and does business of around 20 truckloads. Each truck carries around 16 tonne tomato. The Bengaluru market is also supplying to the Mumbai market.

Gadhave’s organisation has been running the Narayangaon open tomato auction as an experiment to eliminate the middleman and help farmers get better prices for their produce. Over the years, the tomato auction has attracted the attention of other states as a model.

Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country. Pimpalgaon supplies tomatoes to other markets like 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 hectare 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. The last few months, however, have seen a drastic rise and fall in vegetables prices not only in Maharashtra but also across other states.

The tomato season lasts from June to October every year. In Nashik, another tomato-growing region, the season starts from August to September. Gadhave said the rabi planting will begin from October and a good crop is expected during this season as well.

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