Tomato prices are set to remain high for a couple of months, thanks to a major ‘Karpa’ disease attack that has affected more than 70% of the crop. Retail prices of tomatoes are in the range of Rs 60-70 per kg owing to short supplies in the market. According to Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI), climate change for past few seasons is affecting the health of the crop and this year as well there has been a major attack of Karpa which has destroyed the crop. ‘Karpa,’ is a a fungal disease, which leads to withering of the leaves and causes black spots on the fruit. The reason for the same is the unseasonal rainfall despite the strict care taken by farmers. “So instead of the six-seven tonne of productivity per hectare, the yield has dropped down to three-four tonne,” Gadhave pointed out. On Tuesday, the modal price of tomatoes was Rs 47.10 per crate. Each crate contains 20 kg. Pimpalgaon Baswant in Niphad tehsil of Nashik district is the largest producer of tomatoes in the country. They are traded on a crate basis in Nashik. In the first half of November, the average retail price of onion and tomatoes surged 23% and 28% on month, respectively. “Wholesale prices (of tomatoes) in Nashik have nearly doubled from Rs 15-20 per kg a month ago to Rs 35-40 currently,” a trader said. The retail prices are in the range of Rs 60-70 per kg in Nashik, a key tomato producer in the country in the country. Gadhave said although the rains have been good this season and the water table is up, the volatility in climate has been affecting the crop.
Last year as well there was an attack of Karpa which affected the total production, he pointed out. The high prices are likely to continue for a while. This season lasts till February when the new crop comes in. Although the other parts of the country have also begun cultivating tomato, the situation is the same everywhere since the climate change has affected every state, he said. 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. This year, barely two-four traders are coming to the auction every day, he said. Over 3 lakh hectare have come under tomato cultivation in the state.
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 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. Mumbai receives its quota of tomato from cultivated areas in Karnataka, as well as Satara, Sangli and Narayangaon.