With the climate getting favourable for the tomato crop following the onset of winter season, the wholesale prices have dropped down to Rs 5-7 per kg. The retail prices in most markets of Maharashtra have now dropped to Rs 10-12 per kg. Just a month ago, retail prices had shot upto Rs 60-70 per kg because of a Karpa disease attack that had affected the crop. According to Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI), unseasonal rainfall last month had affected the crop productivity. However, now that the climate is favourable, the crop is also thriving, he stated. This season, there has been a 15-20% rise in the area under production leading to a bumper crop scenario. Usually, some 2.5 to 3 lakh hectares in used for tomato cultivation.
Pimpalgaon, which is one of the biggest tomato trading regions in the state, saw arrivals to the tune of 17,695 crates (each crate contains 20kg) and modal wholesale tomato prices were quoted in the range of 6-7 per kg. In the first half of November, the average retail price of onion and tomatoes had surged 23% and 28% respectively respectively. Because of the good monsoons this season, the water table is good in almost all states and no unseasonal rains this month means the crop has been good. Gadhave stated that although the area under cultivation has come down in western Maharashtra, the area has gone up significantly in Vidarbha and Marathwada, and there the crop arrivals are good. Tomatoes are now being harvested in Nashik, Parner, Ahmednagar and Pimpalgaon. The current season lasts till February and the new plantation will begin from this month itself, Gadhave said, adding that the prices should therefore remain steady till March and April. 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, this tomato auction has gained fame and also attracted the attention of other states as a model. Since tomatoes are yet to be harvested in this region, the demand is poor and should pick up later, he said.
Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country. Pimpalgaon, which is in Nashik district, usually 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 acres usually comes under tomato cultivation resulting in a production of some 1,400 tonne of tomatoes a day. About 40,000 hectare comes under 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. Mumbai receives its quota of tomato from areas in Karnataka, as well as Satara, Sangli and Narayangaon. The tomato season lasts from June to October every year. Market observers say tomato prices falling is a normal occurrence during the monsoon months, from June to September. This is because of heavy arrivals in the market.The last few months, however, have seen a drastic rise and fall in vegetables prices not only in Maharashtra but also across other states.