India’s wholesale inflation stood at 0.27 per cent in January, better than 0.73 per cent in the previous month, official data released on Wednesday showed.
In a bid to alleviate the strain of soaring tomato prices, India has turned to its neighbor, Nepal, for imports. The initial batch of these imports will reach cities like Varanasi, Lucknow, and Kanpur by Friday.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman conveyed this news during a parliamentary session on Thursday. This announcement comes in the wake of record-breaking price hikes within India, particularly concerning tomatoes.
Sitharaman shared additional insights, revealing that Mozambique is sending Tur dal to India, while Urad dal will arrive from Myanmar. Furthermore, there is a buffer stock of around three lakh tonnes of onions.
Tomato prices have skyrocketed, experiencing a staggering surge of over 1,400% in wholesale markets,. This is an all-time high of 140 rupees ($1.69) per kilogram over the past three months. Farmers attribute this price surge to factors like insufficient rainfall, heightened temperatures, and a virus outbreak impacting the crop.
Sitharaman shared the intent of ensuring affordable tomatoes for consumers. She assured that they would be available at a reduced rate of 70 rupees per kilogram in Delhi-NCR.
“We have eased import restrictions to allow imports from Nepal. Numerous measures have been taken to curb inflation. A group of ministers (GoM) has been proactively taking steps to address escalating prices, which are affecting the common populace,” Sitharaman expressed while participating in a Lok Sabha debate on a no-confidence motion.
Nepal’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies officials revealed their request for India to provide 1 million tonnes of paddy, 100,000 tonnes of rice, and 50,000 tonnes of sugar in exchange for tomatoes.
However, it’s important to note that since July 20, India has imposed an embargo on non-basmati rice to ensure food reserves remain robust in light of potential El Niño weather disruptions.
Considering this context, Nepal has formally appealed to the Indian government to consider exempting grain and sugar shipments to Nepal, especially in light of the approaching festive season.