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Govt expects tomato prices to cool in coming days

New Delhi: The spike in tomato prices to over Rs 60 per kg due to disrupted supplies from rain-hit South India is “temporary” and rates are expected to ease in coming days, government said today.

Cabinet secretary P K Sinha today reviewed the price situation of tomato as well as of pulses and other essential food items in an inter-ministerial meeting.

“It was observed (in the meeting) that the increase in prices of tomatoes and onions is largely on account of disruption of supplies due to heavy rains in the southern states, which is expected to be temporary. The situation is expected to ease in coming days,” an official release said.

Senior officials from Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs were present in the meeting.

According to sources, the meeting however did not decide on whether to intervene in the market to boost supply and check prices of tomato, which is highly perishable commodity.

But the ministry officials have been asked to keep a close watch on tomato prices.

The maximum increase in retail tomato prices was seen in Chennai at over Rs 80 per kg, while rates in other parts of the country were hovering around Rs 50-60 per kg, sources added.

Tomato prices in Delhi and other cities in northern states have gone up due to supply disruptions from Bangalore and other major growing cities in South India, sources added.

The Cabinet Secretary was informed that there is nothing to panic about spike in tomato prices. “It is a temporary phenomena and prices will come down as supply situation improves,” sources said.

Besides tomato, the meeting also reviewed prices of mustard oil, onion and pulses.

“The situation regarding procurement of mustard oil is being regularly monitored,” the statement said.

The meeting also discussed about imported 5,000 tonnes of tur dal and procurement of pulses for creating buffer stock.

“The issue of quality specifications (of pulses) was resolved and the procurement of essential commodities is expected to pick-up in the coming weeks. With the new arrivals, the situation is expected to further improve,” the statement said.

Necessary steps are being taken with regard to the seized stocks by state governments and their expeditious disposal, it added.