Centre Intervenes To Control Rising Tomato Prices: What's Causing The Surge?

While in Delhi tomato prices have soared to over Rs 100, in Thane, what was once Rs 20 per kg, has now shot up to Rs 140 per kg. In some other states, the retail price of tomatoes has nearly touched Rs 200 making it unaffordable to the common man. 

Tomato price rise in india

Households in many parts of the country have been feeling the heat of the rising tomato prices for the past few weeks. Taking stock of the situation, the Centre on Wednesday directed cooperatives Nafed and NCCF to procure tomatoes from three states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra – for distribution in targetted consumption centres. 

The price of tomatoes surged due to supply disruption caused by heavy rains in the country. With the Centre stepping in, prices are expected to cool down in the near future.

While in Delhi tomato prices have soared to over Rs 100, in some other states the retail prices have nearly touched Rs 200. In Thane, the price of tomato, which was once Rs 20 per kg, has shot up to Rs 140 per kg making it unaffordable to the common man. 

According to the order by the Department of Consumer Affairs, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) will procure tomatoes from the three states and distribute them through retail outlets in cities where prices have recorded maximum increase in the last month.

Tomato Prices To Fall in Delhi-NCR 

In Delhi-NCR, the stocks of tomatoes will be distributed at discounted prices from Friday, the Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a statement. The tomato arrivals in Delhi-NCR are mainly from Himachal Pradesh and some quantity from Kolar in Karnataka.

According to the Ministry, the target zones have been identified on the basis of absolute increase in retail prices over the past one month in centres where prevailing prices are above the all-India average.

Regarding other states, the ministry said that supplies coming to markets in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and some other states are mostly from Maharashtra (Satara, Narayangaon, and Nashik) and it is expected to last till this month-end.

"Prices are anticipated to cool down in the near future, accordingly," the ministry noted.

Why Are Tomato Prices Rising?

Tomato is produced almost in all the states in India, though in varying quantities. Maximum production is in southern and western regions of India – the surplus states – contributing 56-58 per cent of all-India production.

These surplus states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – feed to other markets depending on the production seasons which are also different across regions. 

The peak harvesting season occurs from December to February. The price fluctuation varies depending on the cycle of planting and harvesting seasons.

However, apart from the usual price seasonality, supply chain disruptions and crop damage due to adverse weather conditions like heavy rain and storm and other factors can lead to sudden spikes in prices, the ministry explained.

Price Of Other Vegetables Rising

Apart from tomatoes, onions and potatoes are also adversely affected by seasonal price fluctuations. 

In March, onion prices plummeted so low that farmers dumped their produce in open fields and led protests saying they were not getting any return. The Centre intervened to help the farmers but now, onion prices are rising and they may be reaching new levels in the coming weeks. Potatoes could also face a similar fate in the near future.