December 04, 2021
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Maharashtra: Tomato prices crash across state, farmers blame bumper crop and blocked export routes

Bumper crop and blocked export avenues have seen tomato prices crash across wholesale markets in the state. The crash comes during a year when growers have, so far, reported minimum losses as the major tomato-growing areas of the state have not seen either heavy rainfall or a prolonged dry spell.

At Pimpalgoan’s wholesale market in Niphad taluka of Nashik district, the average traded price of the vegetable is currently around Rs 10.55/kg, less than half of the average traded price in August last year, which was Rs 25.55/kg.

In Pune’s wholesale market, the price of the vegetable is only around Rs 5-10/kg. Vilas Bhujbal, a local trader, said prices had gone down further last week as the arrivals had increased.

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In spite of the first wave of Cocid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, tomato growers had reported good returns in 2020, with the vegetable trading above Rs 20/kg for most of the year. However, since December last year, the trend has reversed and tomato prices have started falling.

Ironically, the price crash comes at a time when farmers from Maharashtra are in the middle of an excellent crop, and growers in Latur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Pune and Nashik have reported good harvest of the vegetable.

Ajit Korade, a vegetable grower from Phaltan taluka in Satara district, said none of the tomato-growing districts have experienced either excessive rain or a prolonged dry spell this year. “As the monsoon has been good over the last three years, the cultivation area of vegetables has grown in the state,” he said.

While plenty of rain this year may have helped the farmers, the markets have failed to rise to the challenge of a bumper crop.

Shriram Gadhave, president of the Vegetable Growers Association of India, blamed the stoppage of exports for the present price crash. “Due to the turmoil in Afghanistan, land exports to Pakistan have also stopped for the last few days,” he said. While demand for Indian tomatoes is good in Middle East, not much is being shipped out given the high cargo charges.

Gadhave said there has been a bumper tomato crop even in other states, including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, creating a glut in the markets. “What we need is export-oriented schemes… farmers have good crop but no markets to sell their produce in,” he said.