MUMBAI: After a period of normalcy that lasted over a year and a half, tomato prices have escalated to Rs 60-80 per kg in retail markets across the country, including Mumbai. There is no definite cause for the increase, with middlemen at Vashi APMC blaming ambiguous causes—from November’s demonetisation to the farmers’ strike in June as well as “inclement weather”.
Contrary to traders’ claims there is no visible shortage either. Good quality, robust red tomatoes are available at all markets in Mumbai. Curiously, retail rates are rising even as wholesale rates continue to fall. APMC trader Shyam Yadav said, “Wholesale rates rose to Rs 55-60 per kg over Friday-Saturday. On Monday, they dropped to Rs 36-40. Let us see what happens tomorrow.”
Conversely, retail rates were Rs 35-40 per kg over Friday-Saturday, perhaps due to leftover stocks, which spiralled to Rs 60-80 Monday as retailers charged their pound of flesh. “I bought half a kilo for Rs 30 to tide over the next two days. But how long can we continue like this?” said Andheri resident Shaila Grover.
Tomato is a household staple without which no meal is complete. Moreover, Shravan observances are set to begin on July 10 for north Indian communities and July 24 for Maharashtrians and Gujaratis. During this time families avoid onion and garlic and rely on tomato.
One of the largest middlemen in the tomato trade at APMC Vashi, Javed Memon, cited a slew of reasons which seemed tough to swallow. “This price increase is an outcome of notebandi. Recently there was also the farmers’ strike in Maharashtra. Moreover, I am told the seeds have failed in south India. So this season we are relying on tomatoes from Maharashtra where a heat wave has beset certain growing areas. Also, remember that farmers have not been getting a good rate for their produce since the past year and a half. It is time they made some money.”
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