Business

Farmer earns crores after tomato price surge in India

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A vendor loads tomatoes in a bag for a customer at a wholesale vegetable market in Mumbai, India, March 14, 2018. — Reuters
A vendor loads tomatoes in a bag for a customer at a wholesale vegetable market in Mumbai, India, March 14, 2018. — Reuters

Tomato prices in India have surged and generated significant eight-fold profits for farmers, one of whom has earned over INR2 crores amid the country’s food crisis caused by a shortage of fruit.

However, this windfall may be short-lived due to anticipated increased supplies in the coming weeks.

Indian food ministry’s data revealed that tomato retail prices in the capital city, New Delhi, skyrocketed to INR 178 per kilogram, a remarkable 700% surge since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the national average was nearly INR 120 on that day.

Heavy rains in the country have disrupted tomato supplies, prompting concerns among consumers who have temporarily reduced their tomato purchases, a vital ingredient in Indian cuisine.

However, tomato growers have been delighted by this exceptional situation. Farmers Ishwar Gaykar and his wife Sonali grow tomatoes in Maharashtra’s 12 acres of land.

During this price surge trend, they have witnessed their profits going up to INR24 million in the current season. Last year, they made just INR1.5 million.

The couple has now become the largest tomato suppliers in their region, while Ishwar has received a celebrity status locally, with media seeking his interviews.

Approximately 350 tons of tomatoes have been supplied by the husband-wife pair in recent weeks, while they expect to sell another 150 tons, barring unfavourable weather conditions.

“About one and a half months ago, tomatoes were fetching barely INR2.5 a kilogram. Supply is thin, while demand remains strong,” Ishwar said, who bore INR2 million worth of loss during the same season in 2021.

The couple has three harvests yearly, while their current crop is around 120 to 140 days old.

Tomato supply in India has been severely affected by transportation disruptions triggered by heavy monsoon rains and floods in certain areas. Meanwhile, inflation in the country is likely to increase as the prices of other vegetables have also risen.

To address the issue, the Indian government has begun selling tomatoes at subsidised rates through mobile vans at various locations. While this has had some impact, prices remain exorbitantly high for consumers in the 1.4 billion people nation.

“I have never seen my produce getting this high a rate. Less than two months ago, farmers were literally forced to throw away tomatoes or feed the fruit-bearing plants to the cattle,” another farmer Mahendra Nikam said, whose tomatoes earned him INR130 per kilogram in Surat.

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