OCTOBER 9, 2021
Just a few months ago, videos from Kolar in Karnataka had gone viral showing tomato farmers there dumping truckloads of their crop on the roadside due to the low prices they were getting and a fall in demand.
Things have taken a dramatic turn now, with the retail price of tomatoes in Bengaluru going up as high as Rs 60 per kg.
This is a sharp rise from September when tomato was sold for Rs 10-15 a kilo in the Karnataka capital.
Fall in supply
A fall in supply, due to the crop losses in neighbouring districts and Maharashtra is being blamed for the sudden rise in tomato prices.
Bengaluru gets its tomato supplies from the districts of Chikkaballapur, Kolar and Bengaluru Rural, where heavy rains have affected the output and many farmers have not even been able to plant their crops.
An estimated 2 tonnes of tomatoes used to arrive in Bengaluru every day, but the supply is decreasing for over a week, and the shortage is as high as 40 per cent.
“We are also not getting tomatoes from the various parts of Maharashtra. Due to an increase in the demand, the prices are moving upwards,” says Gopi, Vegetable Sellers Association President.
“If the same climate continues, the tomatoes rate will touch close to Rs 100,” he said.
With the onset of winters, vegetable prices, including those of tomato, onion and potato goes up every year across India.
Onion prices set to rise
Last month, a report by Crisil Research had said that onion prices are expected to remain at a higher trajectory during October-November, as erratic monsoon may lead to an eventual delay in harvest.
Delay in arrival of the Kharif crop and shorter shelf life of the buffer stock because of Cyclone Tauktae are likely to fuel a rise in prices, it added.
This year, the southwest monsoon started on June 3, signalling a good start to the Kharif season, and farmers have preferred crops such as onion and chilli over highly perishable tomato, as per the report.
On average, India consumes an estimated 13 lakh tonnes of onion every month and to meet this demand, the crop is grown in three seasons – Kharif, late Kharif and rabi.
While rabi onion contributes to 70 per cent of the total onion production, the Kharif onion plays an important role in maintaining supply during the lean period of September-November, which is a major festive season for India, the report said.
Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are major Kharif onion-producing states, contributing over 75 per cent of total Kharif production, it added.
Fluctuating monsoon is expected to pose challenges in transplanting the crop in Maharashtra, which accounts for 35 per cent of the total Kharif onion produced in the country, according to the report.