VIJAYAWADA/KURNOOL: Thieves broke into the Penuganchiprolu vegetable market in Krishna district late Thursday night and stole the most valuable thing available there - tomatoes. Yes, three crates of tomatoes worth Rs 7,000 were stolen from the market.
Penuganchiprolu police said though the theft took place on Thursday night, it came to light on Friday after the vegetable shop vendor found three crates of tomatoes missing. Each crate contained around 20 kg of tomatoes. It is suspected that the theft might be a handiwork of people who know the market very well and timings of arrival of vegetable stocks.
“Normally, vegetable stocks reach the market around 2 am. The miscreants might have committed the theft after conducting a recce,” said a vendor. However, no case has been registered as the vendor did not lodge a complaint, the police said.
Even as tomatoes are being sold at Rs 100 a kg or even more in the retail market, the prices of the vegetable came crashing down in wholesale markets in Chittoor and Kurnool districts to Rs 10 a kg on Saturday, ending the dream run of farmers.
The Madanapalle market in Chittoor, and Pathikonda, Pyapili and Adoni markets in Kurnool, had witnessed a steep rise in the prices of tomatoes to a record Rs 150 a kg just a week ago. On Saturday, the highest price quoted for tomatoes at the wholesale markets was Rs 22 a kg, while the lowest price was Rs 10 a kg depending on the quality of the produce.
“Our joy is short-lived as the tomato prices skyrocketed just for a few days,” said K Ranganayakulu, a tomato farmer from Devanakonda village in Kurnool district. “The incessant rains have come as a bane for us. The quality of tomatoes was hit hard. We are not even able to pack the produce to export it to other States,’’ lamented Mahabub Subhan, a trader from Pathikonda.
Explaining the reason for the slump in tomato prices, Pathikonda market yard secretary M Sreenivasulu said, “Adequate stocks of the vegetable are available now in major markets in Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and they need not import tomatoes from Andhra Pradesh henceforth. Moreover, tomatoes grown in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are of best quality, compared to Kurnool variety.”
The crop arrivals at almost all the wholesale markets increased in recent days, resulting in a slump in the prices of tomatoes. “It may not be surprising to see that the price of tomato fell below Rs 5 a kg within the next couple of days. The prices of tomatoes touched the rock bottom of 50 paise a kg last year causing a huge loss to us,” a farmer lamented.