How and why did the price of tomatoes surge so much? Some of the major reasons for the increase in prices of tomatoes are maximal heat, insufficient production, and extremely delayed monsoon. With this, the rise in temperatures from March to May would have been the major cause, because that led to pest attacks and rottenness in the tomato crops, which ultimately increased the market rates and decreased the yield rates. In the past weeks, the supply of tomatoes has been disturbed largely from the producing states in the country, where harvesting and transportation have been affected as well.
As per the Ministry of Agriculture, the major tomato-producing states are Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu. These states account for 91 percent of the total tomato production in the country. The southern and western regions of India contribute around 56-58% of the total tomato production in the country. And many of these states are suffering when it comes to agriculture production due to inadequate rainfall.
The sudden and rapid fall in the quantity of tomatoes brought to various mandis across India in the last week of June created a demand-supply mismatch. In the last week of June, the price of tomatoes increased up to Rs 100 in more than 50 cities altogether. Money Control reported that the prices of tomatoes are expected to increase further and may reach up to Rs 300 per kg in the upcoming weeks due to insufficient rainfall in some parts of the country. The months of July and August will be worse than June, as there are high chances of lower production of tomatoes because of the current scarcity of rainfall.
The Managing Director and CEO of National Commodities Management Services Limited (NCML), Sanjay Gupta, states, “The problem of price rises will go on for some time. No new plantations can be planted amid the rain. Prices will continue to rise in the weeks to come. It will be a minimum of 2 months before we see prices stabilise.”
According to data available on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs, the all-India daily average retail price of tomato was recorded at Rs 111.53 per kg on Wednesday, which is 173.16 percent higher than a year ago. It is even higher when compared to tomato prices a month ago. As per the data, tomato prices have increased by 295.5 percent to Rs 111.53 per kg from Rs 28.2 per kg a month ago.
The Central government and the Department of Consumer Affairs have directed, through their agencies, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) and the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF), to promptly procure the staple vegetable from mandis in the key growing states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
The prices of tomatoes started rising in June from Rs 40 per kg, and now in the first week of July they have reached Rs 100 per kg, and it is said they will rise to Rs 300 per kg till August. In Mumbai and Delhi, the prices have risen from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 180 or 200 per kg, depending on the quality and breed. In cities like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the price of tomatoes is Rs 180 per kg. Prices also depend of the variety of tomatoes. The organic and desi tomatoes are very expensive, but the hybrid and green ones are a little cheaper than the others.
To know if the consumers are buying tomatoes or not, while conducting survey it was known that 87 percent of people are paying more than Rs 100 per kg, and this percentage was 18 percent on June 24 that raised to 87 percent on July 14. 35 percent households have reduced their consumption of tomatoes; 14 percent of the households have stopped consuming tomatoes entirely; and only 16 percent of households are consuming the same amount they were before this rise in prices. This survey was conducted by Local Circles.
The chances are that the prices of tomatoes are going to increase until October-November, which is till the end of monsoon, with the major reason being the scarcity of rainfall.