After onions and pulses, it is the turn of tomato prices to haunt consumers who are already struggling to meet household budgets.
After onions and pulses, it is the turn of tomato prices to haunt consumers who are already struggling to meet household budgets. Tomatoes are retailing between R60-80 per kg in most markets across Maharashtra, and the rest of the country as well. Industry observers attribute the high prices to the shortfall in rains this year that impacted the overall acreage by nearly 40-50%.
As a result , production has also been affected by nearly 40%, which has resulted in high prices this year, Shriram Gadhave, president of Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI), told FE. Market arrivals are also falling at the Pimpalgaon Agriculture Market Produce Committee (APMC), one of the biggest wholesale markets of tomato in Nashik on Tuesday, to 81,375 crates ( one crate is 20 kg) with modal prices touching R631 per crate from 1.5 to 2 lakh crates, normal arrivals at this time of the year.
Market authorities said that arrivals are now due to decrease since the season is almost ending. They also said that the season has not been very good for farmers. Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country.Pimpalgaon, located 25 km from Nasik, is the largest tomato market in Asia. Pimpalgaon also supplies tomatoes to other Indian markets like Delhi, Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana. Apart from other markets in India, it also exports tomatoes to countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Gadhave said that production has also been affected due to Karpa disease and whitefly attacks on tomatoes. The plantation has been attacked because of paucity of rains, he said. Tomatoes are 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 1400 tonne a day. Some 40,000 hectare comes 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 but this year a different picture has emerged where acreage has shrunk, he said. This time, acreage in Nashik, Satara and Sangli dropped and new places such as Beed, Aurangabad and Parali where farmers began cultivating tomatoes, could not do so this year due to shortage of rains, Gadhave said.
The tomato season lasts from June to October every year. In Nashik, another tomato growing region, the season starts from August to September.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.