“Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to get sufficient amounts of tomatoes that meet our high-quality standards,” read notes at two McDonald’s restaurants in New Delhi, the country’s capital. Several food chains including McDonald’s is now refraining from using tomatoes in their products. Not only the mega stores but also almost all the households of society are refraining from using tomatoes in their daily consumption. The expensive price of tomatoes forms the foundational reason for such a situation in our society. This comes as a surprise as something as staple as tomato has become the talk of almost all families owing to its extremely high prices. Products without tomatoes are all we can provide at the moment.
The retail price of tomatoes has risen steadily over the last two weeks, crossing Rs 60 per kg in several cities throughout the nation (and reaching above Rs 100/kg in others) with little sign of slowing down, according to dealers and producers
What’s up with the high cost of tomatoes?
The present high prices may be attributed to the heavy rains in April and May that caused many farmers to give up on their crops. March and April’s abnormal warmth brought in bug infestations that hampered output.
There are two primary tomato harvests in India. The rabi harvest typically occurs between March and August and is cultivated mostly in the Junnar taluka of Maharashtra as well as in other regions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh, Nashik, Maharashtra, and the rest of the nation all contribute to the market after August with their Kharif crops.
Tomatoes are grown on around 5 lakh hectares of land during the rabi crop season, while another 8–9 lakh hectares are planted during the kharif harvest.
Why did this year’s crop fail?
In either December or January, 3 to 4-inch tall saplings are replanted in raised beds. The first shipment will keep the market supplied through April, and the second until August. Three months later, the crop is ripe, and the harvest lasts another 45 days.
Farmers often rotate their fields so that they have crops available for sale during the month of August. The rabi harvest is more profitable for farmers. The production cost of rabi tomato is around Rs 12/kg, whereas the production cost of kharif tomato is approximately Rs 10/kg, according to Deepak Bhise, head of the Junnar Tomato Growers’ Association in Maharashtra.
But in March and April of this year, farmers got a rude awakening. In March, the average price was between Rs 5 and 10 per kilogram in the Narayangaon wholesale market in Junnar taluka in the Pune district, while in April, the price ranged from Rs 5 to 15 per kilogram. Farmers had to accept prices ranging from Rs 2.50 per kilogram to Rs 5 in May.
Many farmers had abandoned their crops because of the price collapse. Those who had crops already in the ground abandoned them, while those who had intended to sow a second crop in March did not. This double whammy is what’s behind the current price increase.
The average amount of rabi tomato land reported in Junnar taluka is between 3,000 and 5,000 acres. The minutes from a federal government Crop Weather Watch Group (CWG) meeting on June 19 show that there are 4.64 lakh hectares of rabi tomato planted, down from 4.96 lakh hectares during the same period last year.