Maharashtra: Bumper crop and choked exports reduce tomato prices but growers say less losses this year

At Pimpalgoan’s wholesale market in Niphad taluka of Nashik district, the average traded price of the vegetable is around Rs 10.55/kg

Bumper crop and less exports have seen tomato prices crash across wholesale markets in Maharashtra. However, growers said this year they have reported minimal losses as the major tomato-growing areas of the state have not reported a single incident of heavy rainfall or long breaks in the monsoon.

At Pimpalgoan’s wholesale market in Niphad taluka of Nashik district, the average traded price of the vegetable is around Rs 10.55/kg. Last August, the average price in this market was around Rs 25.55/kg which had resulted in farmers reporting good gains.

Notwithstanding the lockdown, tomato growers had reported good returns in 2020 with the vegetable trading above Rs 20/kg for a better part of the year. However, since December 2020, the trend reversed with farmers reporting excessive losses.

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

Ajit Korade, a vegetable grower from Phaltan taluka in Satara district, said this year none of the tomato-growing districts have reported any incident of either long dry spells or excessive rains. “The monsoon has been good over the last three years so the cultivable area has grown in the state,” he said.

While the monsoon might have helped the farmers, the markets failed to rise to the challenge of a bumper crop. Shriram Gadhave, president of Vegetable Growers Association of India blamed the stoppage of exports for the present price crash.

“Due to the problem in Afghanistan, land exports to Pakistan have also stopped for the last few days,” he said. While demand for Indian tomatoes is good in the Gulf region, not much is being shipped out, given the high cargo charges. At Pune’s wholesale market, tomatoes are priced around Rs 5-10/kg. Vilas Bhujbal, a trader in the market, said last week prices had gone down further as the arrivals had increased.

Gadhave said other than Maharashtra, states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have seen tomato cultivation which has led to a glut in the markets. “What we need is export-oriented schemes. Farmers have good crops but no markets to sell them,” he said.

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