Retailers in the national capital region are perplexed after seeing an unusual increase in tomato prices—a six-fold jump in six days. Even a major producing region like Karnataka has also seen a similar surge in prices.

“Six days back, I used to a buy a crate of tomato at ₹1,200 and today it is ₹2,600. So I bought only 5 kg from mandi,” said Jatan Ram, a vegetable vendor at Yamuna river bank in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

As the prices have jumped to ₹120/kg everywhere, “I am not the only one to sell at that rate,” he said justifying the high selling price.

In Ahmedabad wholesale market prices quoted between ₹55 and ₹65 per kg against ₹20 at the start of the month.

Ahmed Patel, a leading vegetable trader at Jamalpur Vegetable APMC market in Ahmedabad, said, “Most of the tomato arrivals happen from Kolar in Karnataka, Sangamner in Maharashtra and somewhat from Rajasthan. Most of these regions are under heavy rainfall, which has disrupted the supplies. The arrivals are down to about 30 per cent of last month. This is causing prices to rally. But it is a temporary phenomenon and will normalise once the rains take a pause.”

According to data from the Consumer Affairs Ministry, pan-India modal price (rates at which most trades take place) in retail markets jumped to ₹40/kg on June 25 from ₹20/kg on June 24, probably the maximum rise in a single day. The ministry’s data show the price of tomato as ₹113/kg in Ernakulam (Kerala) and ₹99/kg in Etawah (Uttar Pradesh)

The erratic weather conditions have affected the tomato production, causing a significant price hike in multiple areas of Bengaluru. The tomato prices have soared to about ₹80-100 per kg over the last few days.

According to traders, prolonged dry spell has led to the infestation of white fly in parts of Kolar, a major producing region in Karnataka, resulting in the fall in supplies of quality produce.

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Modal prices touched ₹8,500 per quintal in the Binnymill fuits and vegetable market in Bengaluru on June 26 against ₹2,700 per quintal on June 20. In the Kolar market, modal prices ruled at ₹3,330 per quintal on Monday against ₹2,130 on June 19. High quality tomato prices ruled at over ₹6,670 per quintal Monday.

According to an agriculture ministry official, it is common for prices to go up during this period, especially due to high temperatures and delayed monsoon in many parts of the country.

The prices may rule strong for another month or so, the official added.

India’s tomato production has been pegged at 20.62 million tonnes (mt) for 2022-23 crop year (July-June) against 20.69 mt in the previous year, per the agriculture ministry’s first estimate of horticulture crops released on June 26.

‘TOP’ scheme

The Congress on Tuesday alleged the price rise was due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “wrong policies.” Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter, “The prime minister had described Tomato, Onion and Potato as ‘TOP’ priority. But because of his wrong policies… first tomatoes get thrown on the road then sold for Rs 100 per kg!”

However, the official of the agriculture ministry said that the ‘TOP’ scheme is aimed at protecting farmers against price crash and has not been designed for the consumers.

According to the Agmarknet portal, the pan-India arrival of tomato has declined 15 per cent in the past week from the year-ago period even as the overall supplies at market yards (mandis) so far this month was 18 per cent higher. The major fall in mandi arrivals has been noticed in Karnataka where it was 15,926 tonnes during June 20-26, 2023 against 28,590 tonnes year-ago.