Opposition slams Centre’s policies for tomato price rise

Government blames the delay in rains for the hike and says it would be brought down soon; it is a temporary phenomenon, says Consumer Affairs Ministry’s Secretary

June 27, 2023 10:02 pm | Updated 10:02 pm IST - New Delhi

The Opposition on June 27 targeted the Centre’s policies as tomato prices doubled in one month across the country. 

The Opposition on June 27 targeted the Centre’s policies as tomato prices doubled in one month across the country.  | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Opposition on June 27 targeted the Centre’s policies as tomato prices doubled in one month across the country. According to the Consumer Affairs Ministry’s Price Monitoring Division, the average national price for a kilogram of tomato was ₹46.1 on Tuesday. One month ago, the rate was ₹23.61. The Centre blamed the delay in rains for the hike and said it would be brought down soon.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies for the price rise. “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 ₹100 per kg!,” he said. Mahila Congress chief Netta D’Souza said pulses disappeared, flour disappeared, oil disappeared, vegetables also disappeared from the poor’s plate. “Modi ji, you talk big about the economy in foreign countries, but inflation is going out of your control. Nirmala ji, after onions, should we stop eating tomatoes too?” she said.

The price for a kilogram of tomato in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai was ₹60, ₹42, ₹75 and ₹67 respectively, according to the Consumer Affairs Ministry. Ministry’s Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told agencies that it is a temporary issue. “It is a highly perishable commodity. Transportation gets affected in areas that received sudden rains. It is a temporary issue. Prices will cool down soon. It happens every year during this time,” Mr. Singh told PTI.

Supply to Delhi

Stating that there is a seasonality to tomato, Mr. Singh said the data on tomato prices of the last five years showed that the rates had risen every year at this time. From Himachal Pradesh, the supply to Delhi would start coming in the next 10 days and prices would soften.

According to the data maintained by the Department of Consumer Affairs, the average price of tomato on an all-India basis is ₹46 per kg on June 27. The modal price is ₹50 per kg while the maximum price is ₹122 per kg.

Among other major cities, the prices stood at ₹52 per kg in Bengaluru, ₹80 per kg in Jammu, ₹60 per kg in Lucknow, ₹88 per kg in Shimla, ₹100 per kg in Bhubaneswar and ₹99 per kg in Raipur.

The maximum price of ₹122 per kg has been reported from Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Bellary (Karnataka), as per the department data.

In the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), tomato prices at Mother Dairy’s Safal stores have doubled to nearly ₹80 per kg in the last one week as supplies have been affected due to rains in key producing States.

The best quality tomatoes at Mother Dairy’s Safal retail stores are being sold at ₹78 per kg on Tuesday. Some varieties are available at lower rates also. There are more than 300 Safal stores in the Delhi-NCR market.

“With the onset of monsoon, the tomato crop is currently going through a seasonal transition. Rainfall in areas such as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand has impacted the crop and also restricted its supply, resulting in a demand-supply gap,” a Mother Dairy spokesperson said.

Agritech startup Otipy, which markets fresh fruits and vegetables through a mobile app, is selling tomatoes at ₹86 per kg. Tomatoes are available at ₹80-85 per kg on the e-commerce platform Big Basket.

Vegetable vendors in the national capital are selling tomatoes between ₹80-120 per kg, depending on the location and quality.

“We were selling tomatoes at ₹25-30 per kg around June 15. It started to increase gradually after that to ₹40, then ₹60 and now we are selling at ₹80 per kg,” Babloo, a vegetable vendor in Paschim Vihar, West Delhi, said.

The prices at Azadpur, the biggest wholesale market of fruits and vegetables in the country, have increased sharply, he says.

However, according to the price prediction made based on artificial intelligence by the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the prices of tomato are likely to remain lower in July, says the Secretary.

In the producing centre of Madanapalle (Andhra Pradesh), the average whole prices at present are ruling at ₹5,600 per quintal and the rates are expected to come down to ₹4,400 per quintal in July. Similarly, the average price of tomato is ruling at ₹3,670 per quintal in Kolar (Karnataka) at present, and is likely to decline to ₹2,700 per quintal in July, he added.

As per the government data, tomato production is estimated to fall slightly to 20.62 million tonnes in 2022-23 from 20.69 million tonnes in the previous year.

(With PTI inputs)

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