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Chennai: Tomato prices surge as rains hit supply; likely to remain high for another month

There has been a sharp rise in retail prices in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu since the onset of the northeast monsoon in the first week of November.

Written by Varsha Sriram | Chennai |
Updated: November 24, 2021 1:33:17 pm
The wholesale price of tomato ranged between Rs 100-110 per Kg on Wednesday.

Tomato prices in Chennai have skyrocketed following the incessant rains across the state over the last few weeks. The wholesale price of tomatoes ranged between Rs 100-110 per kg on Wednesday, while they were retailing at Rs 125/kg.

On Tuesday, the retail price hit nearly Rs 160 per kg. Tomatoes were selling at Rs 119 per kg in Ramanathapuram, Rs 103 per kg in Tirunelveli, Rs 97 per kg in Thiruchirapalli, Rs 94 per kg in Cuddalore and Rs 90 per kg in Coimbatore.

There has been a sharp rise in retail prices in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu since the onset of the northeast monsoon in the first week of November. The northeast monsoon this year has coincided with the formation of two low-pressure areas in the Bay of Bengal and a cyclonic circulation in the Arabian Sea. Tamil Nadu gets most of its annual rain from the northeast monsoon.

The prices at wholesale markets have increased from Rs 35-40/kg to Rs 100-110/kg. Traders and vendors attribute the spike to high demand and low supply due to damage of crops and delays in transportation.

S Chandran, president of Koyambedu Vegetable Wholesale Merchants Association, told there has been a fall in supply due to damage caused to crops across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka due to the heavy rains. The tight supply and high demand has led to the increase in prices.

“Tomatoes reach the Koyembedu market from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. However, due to heavy rains in those areas, the crops have been damaged, due to which there is very less supply. Supply has fallen by 50 per cent,” Chandran said.

On an average day, Chandran said, close to 60-65 trucks of tomatoes (carrying 10 tonnes each) arrive at Koyembedu, which is Chennai’s largest wholesale market. However, due to the inclement weather, only 25-30 trucks are currently reaching the market.

Nithya, a Mylapore-based vegetable vendor, said she is making a loss due to the hike in vegetables. “Since the crops are damaged and supply is less, of the few vegetables we get, most are either spoilt or rotten. The produce is not the same quality we used to get. So, we try to make business with the ones we have and we barely make any profit,” she added.

Nithya said she is able to make a profit of only Rs 5 per kg of the tomatoes that she sells, as opposed to Rs 15 she used to make earlier.

After tomatoes, drumsticks is one of the higher-priced vegetables today, selling at Rs 125 at retail stores in parts of the city. The rate of drumsticks at Koyambedu ranged between Rs 90-100 per kg on Wednesday.

S Chandran said the price of tomatoes would continue to remain at Rs 100-110 per kg at wholesale markets for the next 45 days.

Due to the price hike, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to procure 15 metric tonnes (MT) of tomatoes from cooperatives and sell it to consumers in the market.

Meanwhile, the State Cooperative Department will sell vegetables at a range of Rs 85-100 per kg, as opposed Rs 110-130 per kg sold in the open market. In a press statement, Cooperative Minister I Periyasamy said steps were being taken to sell the vegetables, and tomatoes in particular, in various cooperative stores.

The Tamil Nadu government will procure vegetables from co-operative societies through 65 Farm Green Consumer Vegetable Shops in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tuticorin, Madurai, Thiruvannamalai, Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Tiruppur, Salem, Erode, Vellore, the statement said.

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