MADURAI: After hitting Rs 100 per kg about 40 days ago in May, the price of a kilogram of tomato has plummeted to just about Rs 10 in the Madurai market, owing to the onset of harvest season in local areas bumping up the supply.
The farmers, who are now distressed by the low prices, fear the situation might take a turn for the worse as experts say prices might further drop with the arrival of more stock. The tomato price had skyrocketed to Rs 100 per kg in May after the produce arrival to the Madurai market dropped by 75 per cent since sporadic rainfall hit major areas of harvest-ready tomatoes across the State.
Now, cultivators both local and from other States have harvested fresh batches and transported the produce to the market.
All Vegetable Traders Association president N Chinnamayan at Madurai Central Market said that the average daily demand for tomatoes at the market is 300 metric tonnes. "Since more produce is reaching the market amid low demand, the price is expected to fall below Rs 10 per kg for a couple of weeks. On Sunday, each 15-kg tomato crate from Andhra Pradesh was sold for Rs 150-200, while crates from local cultivators were sold for at Rs 100-Rs 150. Just a month ago, a 15-kg crate would have fetched over Rs 1,000," he added.
According to the horticulture department, tomatoes were cultivated on 233.43 hectares in Madurai this year. Farmers, who are now sellling their produce for just Rs 5-7 per kg or even less, expect huge losses this season.
Tamil Nadu Farmers Association district secretary Sandhanam said many farmers were already reeling under issues of crop damage. "The government should urgently intervene and establish a cold storage facility for stocking tomatoes, processing centres and industries to produce value-added tomato products," he urged.