Tomato Prices, Unseasonal rain and disruptions related to Covid-19 in the farm sector have led to a sudden rise in wholesale as well retail prices of tomatoes and other vegetables in different parts of Maharashtra. Traders and farmers said the present trend will continue till the new crop hits markets in the next fortnight or so.
To date, monsoon in the state has been more than satisfactory in terms of rainfall as well as arrival. Till August 30, the state has received 864.6 mm rainfall as against the normal 824.5 mm it receives. Barring Pune and Nagpur divisions, all other divisions have received more than normal rainfall. Farmers have also sped up sowing activities because of favourable rainfall.
At Junnar’s wholesale market in Pune district, farmers are realising rates of Rs 30 per kg for their produce. This is a slight rise from Rs 25 per kg in July. Market officials pointed to the sharp decline in arrivals, which has pushed the prices up. As against normal arrivals of 25,000 to 35,000 crates containing 20 kg tomatoes each, the market is now reporting around 15,000 to 16,000 crates daily basis.
Farmers in the tomato growing zone of Junnar have blamed heavy rain for the dip in arrivals. Rain has lashed the state in the last few weeks of August. Deepak Bhise, president of Tomato Growers Association of Junnar, said rain had destroyed the market ready picking of the crop, and lockdown due to Covid-19 had also caused disruption in prices, leading farmers to abandon their crop midway.
Unlike tomato growers in Nashik, farmers in this belt take their crop in the winter or rabi period, with the first picking hitting the markets in peak summer months of March, April and May. This crop feeds the markets till kharif tomatoes start arriving from Nashik after September.
Disruption in the markets due to lockdown in the wake of Covid-19, however, has led to tomato prices crashing March onwards. As main consumer markets remained closed, feeder markets reported price crash to record low levels. This has led farmers to abandon their crop midway, leading to the supply crunch at present.
“Ironically, traders are asking us to bring in our produce but there is hardly any produce in the fields,” Bhise said.
Like tomatoes, prices of other vegetables have also recorded a steady rise as farmers blamed heavy rain in August for the same. Rain has prevented harvesting of market-ready crops. “This trend will continue till the middle of September, after which prices can come down a bit,” he added.