Amid rising tomato prices that are burning a hole in common man's pocket across the country, the government on Friday said the prices of the commodity are expected to stabilise within the next 15 days.
Much to the discomfort of consumers, retail tomato prices in the national capital have skyrocketed by up to 65 per cent to Rs 60-70 per kg in a fortnight due to crop damage in producing states.
The prices have risen sharply in other metros as well.
Tomato is available at Rs 50 a kg in Kolkata, Rs 40-45 in Chennai and Rs 35-40 in Mumbai, trade data showed.
It is being sold at Rs 60 at Safal outlets run by Mother Dairy in the national capital and Rs 45-48 on online platforms of Grofers and Nature's Basket.
Meanwhile, the central government said the price rise in tomato is a “seasonal phenomena” and it is keeping a close watch on the price movement.
“Tomato is a perishable item. We are keeping a close watch on prices. The states have also been told to be vigilant so that there is no artificial shortage of supplies and price hike,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told PTI.
Even the price data maintained by the ministry also showed a sharp increase in prices of tomato in the last one week.
Wholesale traders in Delhi attributed the rising price trend in tomato to tight supplies owing to the crop damage because of rains in Haryana and other producing states.
“More than 70 per cent of the tomato crop has been damaged due to excess rains followed by heat in Haryana, one of the key suppliers of the produce to Delhi,” said Ashok Kaushik, President of the Tomato Merchants Association in Azadpur, Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables.
The tomato crop in some parts of Haryana has rotten because of the rains. So, the price for good quality tomato is high, he said, adding that some quantities are coming in from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.
The supply shortage and price rise are also witnessed in other parts of the country, Kaushik said, adding that the tomato crop in some parts of South India has been damaged due to rains, leading to price increase.
“Prices quoted were so high that it was unviable to bring tomato from the South. In fact, UP and Maharashtra are supplying tomato to southern states at present,” he said.
At Azadpur, tomato prices have jumped to Rs 20-50 depending on the quality. Prices a fortnight ago were ruling at Rs 5-15.
The country's tomato production is estimated to be higher by 15 per cent at 187 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 crop year (July- June), as per the government estimate.