Kochi: Surging vegetable prices in Kerala are bothering consumers still reeling under the financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19 lockdowns and myriad curbs. The price of tomatoes has skyrocketed to Rs 120 per kilogram at many retail outlets from Rs 45 in the first week of November.
On Tuesday, retail prices of tomato were ruling at Rs 120 per kg in Kottayam, Rs 110 per kg in Ernakulam, Rs 103 per kg in Thiruvananthapuram, Rs 100 per kg in Palakkad, Rs 97 per kg in Thrissur, and Rs 90 per kg in Wayanad and Kozhikode.
Vegetables which were earlier priced in the range of Rs 30 to Rs 40 now cost Rs 60 to Rs 80.
As per the data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry, retail tomato prices began to rise from the beginning of October and have been ruling at elevated levels in November. All India modal retail price of tomato stood at Rs 40 per kg on October 1 and shot up to Rs 50 per kg by end of the month. The prices further rose to Rs 80 per kg on November 23.
Reduced supply due to the crop loss inflicted by the heavy rainfall in the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is the primary reason for the price rise.
Vegetables from North India like potato and onion are slightly cheaper as the region was not affected by the north-east monsoon.
While a spike in vegetable prices are common during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, it was seldom spurred by a severe shortage in supply.
Even within Kerala vegetable production declined recently owing to torrential downpour spurred by low-pressure formations over the seas and the north-east monsoon which is locally known as the Thulavarsham.
Prices in other cities and states
In Chennai, retail price of tomato was at Rs 100 per kg, Puducherry Rs 90 per kg, Bengalure Rs 88 per kg and Hyderabad Rs 65 per kg.
In Karnataka, retail prices of tomato are ruling at Rs 85 per kg in Dharwad, Rs 84 per kg in Mysure, Rs 80 a kg in Mangalore and Rs 78 per kg in Bellary. In Andhra Pradesh, tomato prices are ruling at Rs 91 per kg in Vijawada, Rs 80 per kg in Vishakapatnam and Rs 75 per kg in Tirupati. In Tamil Nadu, tomato is selling at Rs 119 per kg in Ramanathapuram, Rs 103 per kg in Tirunelveli, Rs 97 per kg in Thiruchirapalli, Rs 94 per kg in Cuddalore and Rs 90 per kg in Coimbatore.
However in the national capital, tomato was sold at Rs 72 per kg, according to the data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry for 167 centres representing all regions of the country.
Azadpur Tomato Association President Ashok Kaushik said, "The tomato supply to Delhi from south India has been affected because of the rains. If rains continue in the coming days, the prices in the national capital might rise from the current level."
The tomato prices in Azadpur wholesale market fell slightly on Tuesday due to arrival of desi variety tomato from neighbouring states of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, he said.
At present, harvesting is underway in key growing states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Tomato crop will be ready for harvest in around 2-3 months after planting and harvesting is done as per the requirement of the market.
India, the world's second largest tomato producer after China, produces around 19.75 million tonnes from an area of 7.89 lakh hectares with an average yield of 25.05 tonnes per hectare, according to National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation.
(With PTI inputs)