SKYROCKETING TOMATO PRICES
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently released Reserve Bank of India’s monthly bulletin has highlighted that the volatility of tomato prices has historically contributed to overall inflation levels in the country.
TOMATO PRODUCTION IN INDIA:
- Tomato production in the country is concentrated regionally in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, and Gujarat.
- These states account for close to 50% of total production, according to Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare figures.
- There are two major crops of tomato annually — kharif and rabi.
- The rabi crop hits the market between March and August annually while the kharif crop comes to markets from September.
- Some regions in Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh’s Solan are able to grow tomatoes during the monsoon months, while in the summer, Andhra Pradesh’s Madanapalle region alone accounts for tomato cultivation in the entire country.
- As for tomato production, it peaked in 2019-20 at 21.187 million tonnes (MT) and has been declining since.
- In 2021-22, it dropped to 20.69MT and 20.62MT in 2022-23.
REASONS OF FUELLING OF TOMATO PRICES:
- There are multiple factors for the dip in overall tomato production this year.
- The two key reasons being extreme weather conditions and low commercial realisation of the crop for farmers in the months before June as well as last year.
- The heatwaves and high temperatures in April and May along with delayed monsoon showers in southern India.
- Decreased production in Maharashtra led to pest attacks in tomato crops.
- Later, incessant rains in tomato growing regions further affected the new crop.
- The fact that July-August is a lean production period for tomato, as it falls between yields, compounded the problem.
- Reports show that many farmers in the Kolar district of Karnataka, which is usually responsible for sizeable tomato supplies, shifted to beans owing to the higher prices it fetched last year.
HOW CAN THE PRICES BE CONTROLLED ?
- Policy experts say high volatility can be tamed by making some improvements.
- First, since tomato is highly perishable, improved value and supply chains can help with the problem.
- An organised value chain involves a market focussed collaboration of a set of entities working in tandem to produce, process and market products and services in an effective and efficient manner.
- Building more processing units and linking tomato value chains to processing of at least 10% of tomato production into tomato paste and puree.
- The development of integrated cold chains has also been suggested.
SYLLABUS: PRELIMS,MAINS, GS-3, INDIAN ECONOMY