High prices make tomato the ‘forbidden veggie’

Author: Mohammed Hussain

Hyderabad: The prices of tomato are going through the roof with the vegetable selling for over Rs 50 a kg, compared to Rs 30-35 a kg sold in July last year. The prices show no tendency to easing because of the prevailing drought-like conditions, groundwater table receding further, poor yield of tomato cultivated with bore well water.

Normally, vegetable prices ease a bit in July following bountiful rains in June and July. Shrinkage of the area under cultivation of tomato in the state and dependence on imports has pushed up the prices of tomato. The area under tomato cultivation in the state does not exceed one lakh acres.

The cultivation has got severely affected in Nizamabad, Vikarabad, Gajwel, Chevella, Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda districts. The groundwater level in these districts has receded from 10 meters to 14 meters.

This has affected the cultivation of the crop under bore wells. Indigenous tomato crop could not even meet 10 per cent of the demand. Consequently, the state has to depend on the import of tomatoes from Madanapalli in Andhra Pradesh, Kolar, Chikmaglur and Chintamani in Karnataka. The crop yield has reduced in those states too. The meagre production of tomato in Madanapalli is finding its way to Tamil Nadu markets, creating a huge scarcity in Telangana.

The Bowenpalli market received 3,000 quintals of tomato on July 23, 3,095 quintals on July 22 and 3,490 quintals on July 21 last year, while the imports this year are put at 2,664 quintals, 2,239 quintals and 1,800 quintals in the corresponding periods this year. The supply fell short by at least 1,200 quintals in the Bowenpally market.

Under such a scenario, imports from Maharashtra and Rajasthan should increase. The prices of tomato could decrease only if the crop yield in the state increases under the impact of a late monsoon revival. Else, tomato seems to be a ‘forbidden vegetable’ for the common man.

Other vegetables like capsicum (Rs 60 a kg), cauliflower, bitter gourd, beans, and ridge gourd sell at over Rs 50 a kg for want of import of vegetables from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat. Also, carrots sell at Rs 70 a kg. Imports from Indore in MP and Maharashtra have affected bitter gourd prices at about Rs 60.