Why Are Tomato Prices Surging Across India? When Will It Come Down?
There is a shortage of tomatoes because farmers abandoned their crops, pests attacked the crops, and weather conditions reduced production.
The surge in tomato prices in India can be attributed to a combination of factors. Firstly, many farmers abandoned their tomato crops in April-May due to a sudden fall in prices during that period.
The unusual heat in March and April also led to pest attacks, further impacting production.
India has two major tomato crops: the rabi crop, grown mainly in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, which is available from March to August, and the kharif crop, grown in Uttar Pradesh, Nashik, and other regions, which supplies the market after August.
This year, farmers faced difficulties as the prices plummeted in March-April. The average price at the Narayangaon wholesale market in March was around Rs 5-10/kg, and in April it dropped to Rs 5-15/kg.
In May, farmers were forced to sell tomatoes for as low as Rs 2.50-5/kg. Consequently, many farmers abandoned their crops, resulting in reduced production.
The lack of winter and excessive heat in March-April caused attacks of the cucumber virus in Maharashtra, while South India experienced the devastating impact of the leaf curl virus due to excessive heat.
The current tomato arrivals at the wholesale market are significantly lower than usual, with around 24,000-25,000 crates (20 kg each) arriving daily, compared to the expected 40,000-45,000 crates.
The next crop, kharif tomato, is being transplanted after the reactivation of the monsoon. It is anticipated that arrivals and retail prices may start seeing a correction post-August.
The shortage of tomatoes has led to a price surge and the prices are not expected to go down anytime soon. Relief is expected only after the arrival of the kharif crop and the stabilization of supplies in the market.