Tomato are the new fuel; sky-high prices put citizens in a financial fix

The price of tomatoes — sold every winter around ₹ 20 a kilo — has spiralled following rain and floods in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In most southern states, tomatoes are selling for upwards of ₹100-120 a kilo. The worst pricing is in Chennai, where the much-needed vegetable is selling for ₹140 a kilo, up from ₹40 a kilo at the beginning of this month.

Prices of other vegetables like capsicum and onions have also gone up, giving the opposition a fresh issue to attack the government. In Andhra Pradesh — the largest producer of tomatoes in the country — the vegetable is selling at ₹100 a kg and are likely to shoot up further. Large tomato-growing areas have been hit by rain and the diesel price hike is further augmenting the prices.

Normally, tomatoes are cultivated from 58,000 hectares in Andhra Pradesh and the state grows around 26.67 lakh metric tonnes. Madanapalle in Chittoor is the biggest tomato market. But this year, the biggest producers — the districts of Chittoor and Anantapur — are among the areas hit worst by floods.

Now, supplies are coming mostly from Solapur in Maharashtra, and Karnataka’s Chikbullapur. In Chennai, where tomatoes are burning a hole in customers’ pockets, the wholesalers are blaming short supply and hoarding by online platforms. Besides some local produce, the city gets its supplies largely from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.  

“The situation that Modi-ji has created for the country — Section 144 has been imposed on tomato and onion in the kitchen… Capsicum is ₹100-120 a kilo, even onions are ₹50 a kg,” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera. 

Pointing out that input cost has gone up after the imposition of Goods and Services Tax on diesel and agricultural equipment, he said the government should make an assessment of the government on how much money the common man is left with at the end of the month.

Untimely rains and flood-like situation in the South of India has made the situation worse, say agriculture experts. Rains have destroyed the crop while the crop that is harvested is unable to reach other states due to transportation blockages, road and bridge breakages due to floods in the South. 

This situation has not just shot up the transportation costs for farmers, but also is burning a hole in people’s pockets. After a hike in fuel prices, LPG and edible oil prices, this sharp spike in veggies is basically a rude shock to the citizens across India, who are silently suffering from financial burden and costs going rapidly up! 

Interestingly, #Tomato price hike is also being discussed by netizens on social media who argue that the cost of a single meal in Modi’s India today has gone up to around Rs. 300. 

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Tejaswini Pagadala

Communications Consultant: TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.
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