All India average retail tomato price, which has shot up by 63 per cent to Rs 67 per kg over the last year due to unseasonal rains, are likely to soften from December with the arrival of fresh crop from northern states, the government said on Friday.
In the case of onions, retail prices have substantially subsided below to the level that prevailed in 2020 and also 2019, it said.
"Tomato arrivals from north Indian states will start from the beginning of December itself, which will add to availability and lead to fall in prices.
"In December, arrival is expected to be at par with last year," the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
Arrivals in November this year were only 19.62 lakh tonne compared to 21.32 lakh tonne in the year-ago period, it said.
Explaining the reasons for the spike in tomato prices, the ministry said retail tomato prices have risen from September-end due to unseasonal rains in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh which led to crop damage and delay in arrival from these states.
Delayed arrivals from north Indian states was followed by heavy rains in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, which disrupted the supply and also resulted in crop damage, it said in a statement.
Stating that tomato price is highly volatile, the ministry said any slight disruptions in supply chain or damage due to heavy rains results in spurt in prices.
Conversely, bulk arrival and logistics problems have the potential of creating a situation of glut in the market and resultant dip in retail prices, it said.
As on November 25, the all-India average price of tomato was Rs 67 per kg which is 63 per cent higher than that of last year.
As per the agriculture ministry, kharif (summer) production of tomato in the current year is at 69.52 lakh tonne as against 70.12 lakh tonne produced last year, it added.
However, in case of onions, the ministry said prices have substantially subsided and the level is below that of the retail prices in 2020 and also 2019.
On November 25, all-India average retail price of onion was Rs 39 per kg which is 32 per cent lower than that of the last year.
The ministry said it released buffer onion stock of 2.08 lakh tonne built under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) in a calibrated and targeted manner to states and cities where prices were increasing over the previous month and also to such markets like Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon to augment the availability.
Further, states have been offered onion at Rs 21 per kg ex-storage locations.
Nagaland and Andhra Pradesh have taken onion from the buffer.
The government's Mother Dairy Safal units have also been supplied onion at Rs 26 per kg inclusive of transportation cost.
"The aggressive releases of onion from the buffer have contributed to stability in prices," the ministry said.
The kharif and late kharif production of onion is estimated at a robust 69 lakh tonne. Kharif onion has already started arriving in the market.
Retail tomato price on Friday shot up to Rs 75 per kilogram in the national capital while the rates in some parts of South India softened but were still high, according to government data.
In Chennai, retail tomato price declined to Rs 63 per kg on Friday from the peak of Rs 100 per kg on November 22.
Similarly, in Thiruvananthapuram, the price dropped to Rs 80 per kg from Rs 103 per kg in the same period, the data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry showed.
On Friday, in Puducherry, tomato price declined to Rs 45 per kg from Rs 100 per kg on November 22.
However, in Hyderabad, the price softened to Rs 72 per kg from Rs 90 per kg that prevailed during two days.
In Bengaluru, tomato price in retail markets continued to rule high at Rs 88 per kg. At Port Blair, the price jumped to Rs 143 per kg on Friday from Rs 113 per kg on November 22.
According to the data, the retail tomato price in the national capital increased to Rs 75 per kg on Friday from Rs 63 per kg on November 22.
However, retail prices of onion and potato in Delhi showed signs of softening.
Retail onion prices were ruling at Rs 35 per kg and potato at Rs 20 per kg.
The average all India maximum retail price of tomato rose to Rs 143 per kg on Friday from Rs 113 per kg on November 22 while all India modal price was ruling at Rs 60 per kg as against Rs 67.5 per kg in the same period, as per the government data.
Photograph: Ajay Verma/Reuters