Tomato prices fall to Rs 2 per kg; farmers unable to recover transport cost

In a major worry for farmers, tomato prices have tumbled, to slipping below the transportation cost from farm to mandis, due to a sharp increase in arrivals.

In the benchmark Pimpalgaon mandi in Nashik district, good quality tomato was selling at Rs 1.50-2 a kg, which left farmers perturbed on its worth over transportation from farm to the mandi, according to data by the National Horticulture Research Development Foundation (NHRDF). Export quality tomato, however, continues to fetch premium over the average variety, and traded at Rs 7.55 a kg in Lasalgaon mandi. With this, the model price of tomato worked out to Rs 5.75 a kg in the same mandi cited above. The model price of tomato in Delhi reported a decline of just 30 per cent to trade at Rs 10.56 a kg on Friday, from Rs 15.89 a kg in August.

Falling prices have irked farmers more than traders and consumers. With rising input costs like seed, fertiliser and labour, farmers are averse to cultivating tomato next season. Lack of adequate storage facility and farmers’ financial muscle has worsened their holding power to sell tomato in small quantities.

Tomato arrivals in Pimpalgaon jumped to set a record for the season at 3,021 tonnes on Thursday, from a mere 5.9 tonnes in August. 

Similarly, in Vashi APMC, which feeds consumers in Mumbai, average quality tomato price has slumped to Rs 4 a kg from Rs 12 a kg. Model prices also slipped to Rs 5 a kg on Friday from Rs 13 a kg on August 1.

“New season crop is being harvested all around the country. Supply is coming in from all major growing centres, including Bengaluru. At the current prevailing price of Rs 4 a kg, farmers must be realising Rs 1-2 a kg, which does not yield even seed and labour cost,” said a senior APMC official at Vashi.

Consumers, however, pay Rs 16–20 a kg for tomato, which is used as a vegetable additive. Despite being a secondary vegetable or a supplement, demand for tomato is growing from fresh and processed vegetable consumers. 

The Ministry of Agriculture, in its Second Advance Estimate, reported total tomato output at 22.07 million tonnes for 2017-18, as against 20.71 million tonnes in 2016-17.