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Tomato Prices Crash in Maharashtra, Angry Growers Blocked Export Routes

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.

Ayushi Raina
Tomato Vendor
Tomato Vendor

Tomato prices have dropped across wholesale markets in Maharashtra due to bumper harvest. The price crash comes during a year when farmers have, so far, reported minimum losses as the major tomato-growing regions of the state have not seen good rainfall or a prolonged dry spell.

The average marketed price of vegetables at Pimpalgoan's wholesale market in Niphad taluka of Nashik district is currently about Rs.10.55/kg, less than half of the average traded price in August last year. The vegetable sells for roughly Rs.5-10 per kilogram in Pune's wholesale market. Prices had dropped even more last week, according to Vilas Bhujbal, a local trader, as arrivals increased.

Tomato growers reported high profits in 2020, despite the initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, with the vegetable trading above Rs.20/kg for the most of the year. However, the trend has shifted since December of last year, and tomato prices have begun to fall.

Ironically, the price drop comes at a time when Maharashtra farmers are in the midst of an excellent crop, with growers in Latur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Pune, and Nashik reporting good harvest of the vegetable.

This year, none of the tomato-growing districts, according to Ajit Korade, a vegetable grower from Phaltan taluka in Satara district, have seen either significant rain or a protracted dry period. “As the monsoon has been good over the last three years, the cultivation area of vegetables has grown in the state,” he said.

While the farmers may have benefited from the abundant rain this year, the markets have failed to meet the challenge of a bumper crop.

The current price drop, according to Shriram Gadhave, president of the Vegetable Growers Association of India, is due to a stoppage in exports. “Due to the turmoil in Afghanistan, land exports to Pakistan have also stopped for the last few days,” he said.

While there is a significant demand for Indian tomatoes in the Middle East, due to the high cargo costs, hardly much is exported abroad.

According to Gadhave, a bumper tomato production has resulted in a market oversupply in other regions such as Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. “What we need are export-oriented schemes.. farmers have a good crop but no markets to sell it in,” he explained.

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