Tomato prices slashed

By Times Of India on 21 Dec 2017 | read
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CHENNAI: Tomato farmers are facing losses as the price for their produce has nosedived in recent weeks. Till November-end, farmers were making nominal profit in the wholesale market where 15kg of tomato was sold for Rs 800. However, over the past three weeks the price has fallen to Rs 100/kg.
However, in Chennai the slash in prices cannot be entirely attributed to over-production, say market vendors. Koyambedu Vegetable Market Association advisor V R Soundararajan said tomato prices came down from Rs 40 to a range of Rs 15 to Rs 20 over the past 10 days.

"There was crop damage due to rains earlier but now there is some decent production. Only 20% to 25% of the reduction in tomato price may be due to abundance but it is more because of other vegetable prices going down too. Prices of vegetables like peas went down from Rs 135 to Rs 50, avarakkai (broad beans) from Rs 60 to Rs 40 and cabbage from Rs 40 to Rs 20. We expected the prices to fall in January but it went down in December itself," he said.

According to tomato farmers, about 90% of farmers in Erode district have migrated to tomato cultivation after seeing notable profit in the business. "The volume of production has increased unexpectedly," K Vairavel, treasurer, Nethaji Vegetable Market in Erode, told TOI.

Mecheri and Vazhapadi in Salem district and Rayakottai in Krishnagiri district are the main tomato cultivation areas in Tamil Nadu. Tomatoes cultivated in these areas are sent to five major markets in the state - Pollachi and Coimbatore in Coimbatore district, Oddanchatram in Dindigul district, Thalaivasal in Salem district and Koyambedu in Chennai.

"Nethaji Vegetable Market in the city, one of the important retail markets in Salem region, also get tomatoes from these areas," Vairavel said.

A total of 700 bags (30kg each) of tomatoes are unloaded at Nethaji Vegetable Market every day. "Suddenly, it has increased to 8,000 bags," Vairavel said. The price has come down due to abundance in arrival.

The area of tomato cultivation in the district has increased to 3,000 acres from 800 acres. Farmers, who were cultivating cereals, tapioca and other pulses, had switched to tomato cultivation. Bags of 15 kg each containing good quality tomatoes were sold for more than Rs 800 until November. "The price started reducing drastically from the first week of December and it has come down to Rs 100," said K Jayaraman, a farmer in Sathyamangalam.

Meanwhile, some farmers have decided not to pluck tomato from plants until the price goes up again.