Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh is facing a shortage of tomatoes as the local farmers are selling them to buyers from states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and even to Sri Lanka for higher prices.
AP produces nearly 24.50 lakh metric tonnes of tomatoes by raising the crop in about 58,000 hectares every year. Erstwhile Chittoor district is contributing a major share of the 12.75 lakh MT production, followed by Anantapur and Kurnool with 7.28 lakh MT and 1.42 lakh MT respectively.
The cost of a kg of tomatoes rose to Rs 80 and even Rs 100 in markets, the state government came up with a plan to procure them directly from the local farmers and is prevailing upon the wholesalers having tie-up with Rythu Bazars to sell them to self-help group women. This is in addition to procuring tomatoes from wholesalers in Solapur, Raipur and Delhi.
The tomatoes thus procured were being sold at select Rythu Bazars at affordable prices ranging from Rs 55 to Rs 60 per kg from Friday. This is expected to continue for the next two weeks.
The authorities are adopting the strategy of ‘no profit and no loss’ in the procurement and sale of tomatoes. They are procuring the produce from various sources and adding the cost of transportation.
As people formed long queues at Swaraj Maidan and elsewhere in the city and in other parts of the state, the government has started to sell tomatoes at prices ranging from Rs 55 to Rs 60 a kg at Rythu Bazars in Guntur, Palnadu, Eluru and Visakhapatnam.
The horticulture and marketing authorities are working jointly to assess the availability to tomatoes at farms and other sources and procuring them. The demand is such that though the authorities planned to procure 70 tonnes of tomatoes to sell it on Saturday, they managed to procure only 30 tonnes by Friday evening.
Rythu Bazar chief executive officer Srinivasa Rao said, “We are looking for good quality tomatoes from the local farmers and also from wholesalers within and outside AP. We will procure them at relatively low cost and sell them at an affordable price at Rythu Bazars.”
Meanwhile, horticulture authorities say that the shortage of tomatoes was due to low production following the several spells of heavy winds and rainfall. “During every summer, we face a similar problem.”
They sound confident that the new tomato crop will hit the market in a few days and the prices will come down.
The average price of tomato has gone up every week in April and May — from a minimum of Rs 16 per kg in the local market and Rs 12 in the Rythu Bazar in the first week of April to Rs 65 in the local market and Rs 60 in the Rythu Bazar on Thursday. This showed the price multiplied, causing hardships to the consumers.