In a recent announcement, the government has expressed optimism regarding the reduction of retail prices of tomatoes. This positive development is anticipated due to the increased supply of new tomato crops from the prominent agricultural states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
The recent disruption in the tomato supply chain, exacerbated by monsoon rains and other related issues, has led to a significant surge in retail prices across various parts of the country. Reports indicate that retail prices of tomatoes have skyrocketed to ₹ 200-250 per kilogram, posing considerable challenges to consumers and raising concerns within the agricultural and economic spheres.
In a written response to Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, expressed his expectation that tomato prices would witness a decline in the near future. The anticipated reduction in prices is attributed to the increased arrival of new tomato crops from Nashik, Naryangaon, and Aurangabad regions in Maharashtra, as well as from Madhya Pradesh.
The minister’s statement suggests that the recent surge in tomato prices may have prompted farmers to respond by increasing their tomato cultivation. This increase in production is viewed as a potential measure to stabilize prices in the coming months.
In response to a question posed by independent member Kartikeya Sharma, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution provided information regarding the average daily retail price of tomatoes in certain regions during the week of July 10 to July 16.
As of July 18, there has been a notable decline in the average retail price of tomatoes in both Delhi and Punjab. According to the latest data, the average retail price of tomatoes in Delhi has decreased to ₹ 130 per kilogram, while in Punjab, it has further dropped to ₹ 127.70 per kilogram.
To address the issue of soaring tomato prices and make them more affordable for consumers, the government has taken proactive steps by initiating the procurement of tomatoes under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF). This strategic intervention aims to stabilize tomato prices in the market and ensure that consumers have access to this essential commodity at a highly subsidised rate.
In a concerted effort to make tomatoes available at affordable prices and ensure their distribution to major consuming centers, the National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) have been actively procuring tomatoes from ‘mandis’ (wholesale markets) in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
By procuring tomatoes directly from these wholesale markets, the NCCF and NAFED are intervening in the supply chain and regulating prices to stabilize the market. This approach allows them to purchase tomatoes during times of surplus, which can help support farmers by ensuring a fair price for their produce and preventing wastage.
The retail price of tomatoes experienced a notable decline in recent days, providing relief to consumers who were previously facing higher prices. Initially sold at ₹ 90 per kilogram, the retail price was reduced to ₹ 80 per kilogram starting from July 16. Subsequently, there was a further reduction in the retail price, and as of July 20, tomatoes were being sold at ₹ 70 per kilogram.
As of July 18, a cumulative quantity of 391 tonnes of tomatoes had been procured by the National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED).
The Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (DAFW) is taking significant steps to protect the interests of growers of perishable agri-horticultural commodities through the implementation of the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS). This scheme is designed to address the challenges faced by farmers during the peak arrival period of bumper crops when market prices tend to fall below economic levels and the cost of production.
Under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS), the financial burden resulting from the fall in prices of perishable agri-horticultural commodities is shared equally between the central government and the state government. This cost-sharing arrangement follows a 50:50 basis, where each government contributes half of the total loss incurred due to the market price fluctuations.
As per the Minister’s statement, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has not received any proposal from state governments for market intervention under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) to address distress sales of tomatoes. This means that as of the given date, no formal requests have been made by any state government seeking assistance from the central government to intervene in the market and procure tomatoes to mitigate distress sales.