Tomato prices are expected to cool down in the next 15 days with increase in supplies from producing centres and reach a normal level in a month, a top government official said, as retail prices of the kitchen staple shot up over Rs 100 per kg in major cities.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, in a media briefing, also said the retail prices of tomato in the national capital will come down immediately on improved supplies from Solan and Sirmaur districts of Himachal Pradesh.
"The phenomena of price rise in tomato happens every year at this time. Every agriculture commodity in every country goes through a seasonality in the price cycle. In June, prices reached a high level," he said.
Tomato's Highly Perishable Nature Has Affected Market
Tomato is also a highly perishable commodity and weather vulnerability, which has become prevalent in the recent times due to climate change and other issues, has disturbed the supplies, he added.
The secretary further said, "You cannot store tomato for a long time and transport it for a long distance. There is an inherent vulnerability in the commodity. Transportation is also a big issue."
June-August and October-November are also lean production seasons and prices in this period normally see a sharp increase, he said.
Prices Were Almost Half Last Year
All India average retail price of tomato on June 29 was ruling at Rs 49 per kg as against Rs 51.50 per kg in the year-ago same day, he said, and added, "I am not justifying the rate. This also proves seasonality."
Stating that it's a complex problem, the secretary said, however the government is handling it and finding a solution to streamline the supplies throughout the year. For this, a Grand Tomato Challenge was launched on Friday.
It is like a hackathon where ideas are being invited from students to industry stakeholders on primary processing, storage and valorisation of tomato, he said.
Tomato Prices Nationwide
According to the data maintained by Department of Consumer Affairs, the average retail price of tomato on an all-India basis is Rs 56.58 per kg on June 30. The modal price is Rs 100 per kg while the maximum price is Rs 123 per kg.
The retail price of tomato in Delhi is Rs 80 per kg, Mumbai (Rs 48 per kg), Kolkata (Rs 105 per kg) and Chennai (Rs 88 per kg).
Among other major cities, the prices stood at Rs 54 per kg in Bengaluru, Rs 100 per kg in Bhopal and Lucknow each, Rs 80 per kg in Shimla, Rs 98 per kg in Bhubaneshwar and Rs 99 per kg in Raipur.