Nagpur: House wives all over India are in a turmoil since the price of their beloved tomatoes have gone through the roof in the last few days. It has already touched the danger level of Rs. 100/ per Kg in some places and expected to rise further.
For those who know the first thing about food and cooking, tomatoes are important in all Indian foods – whether you are South Indian, North Indian or from Maharashtra, Bengal or Gujarat. It is the third most important vegetable – after potatoes and onions for Indians. For the rest of the world, it is the second most consumed vegetable after the ubiquitous potato. And India is the second largest producer of this very popular produce, second only to China. We produce 11% of the world’s requirement.
It is no wonder thus that even the Indian Government is very concerned over the ‘sudden rise’ – since as usual they were caught napping. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has called for a high level and urgent meeting at 3 p.m. today to discuss this crisis it is learnt. Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, a Ram Vilas Paswan, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are expected to attend the meeting as are top officials including Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian.They will discuss steps to keep prices of essential commodities in check.
Industry body FICCI has asked the government for a “more proactive management” of food supply and has said it hopes “inflation will remain within the RBI’s indicative trajectory”. The price of vegetables is a major concern, with the Wholesale Price Index or WPI data released on Tuesday showing that vegetable inflation rose sharply from 2.21 per cent in April to 12.94 per cent the next month.Tomato prices have doubled to an average Rs. 80 a kg across the country due to crop damage. In Hyderabad they are selling for Rs. 100 already.
What has led to this rise?
Drought in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and many parts of the country reduced the output of tomatoes, though in most of these states areas under tomato cultivation went up.
Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, apart from Maharashtra and Odisha are main growers. In Maharashtra, it is grown mainly in Nasik and Pune areas.This Time of the year, it is the crops of Maharashtra that are transported to South and North markets. This June has seen a reverse trend – tomatoes from Delhi and North are being shipped to Maharashtra.
Tomaotes being highly perishable unlike potatoes, it adds to consumers and traders woes.
Agricultural experts opine that this is only the beginning. Potato prices are going to hit the roof next. They are now around Rs. 20/ per Kg. but will soon go to Rs. 30 or even 40. Next to spiral will be the price of eggs. When vegetables get dear, many who can, turn to eating eggs even if they are vegetarians.