In recent days, India has been grappling with a severe scarcity of tomatoes, leading to a significant burden on consumers’ wallets. The retail market has witnessed an alarming surge in tomato prices, reaching Rs 80-120 per kilogram, while wholesale prices have soared to 65-70 per kilogram.
Several factors contribute to this surge in prices, including high temperatures, reduced production, and delayed rainfall across many parts of the country. The sudden spike in tomato prices has further exacerbated the inflation concerns of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), responsible for maintaining price stability.
Ashok Khutwad, a tomato trader from Narayangaon’s wholesale market, explains that the supply of tomatoes from neighboring states such as has significantly decreased. To compensate, tomatoes are now being sourced from Bangalore and other cities. Unfortunately, recent rainfall has damaged ground-based tomato plants, while only vertically grown plants supported by wires have been spared.
The low market prices earlier in May prompted many farmers to abandon tomato cultivation, resulting in poor production. Farmers refrained from spraying pesticides or using fertilizers due to unremunerative rates, leading to increased pest and disease incidence and further reducing output, according to a farmer from the Saswad belt in Maharashtra.
Fortunately, there is a possibility that tomato prices may decline in the coming weeks as harvesting in new regions is set to commence. However, a heavy downpour in growing areas like Himachal Pradesh could keep prices firm, warns Ganor.
Media reports indicate that last year, tomato cultivation saw a decline as many farmers shifted to planting beans due to the high prices witnessed at that time.
The tomato scarcity is expected to have a rippling effect on the menus of eateries and restaurants, posing challenges for consumers.