The Tomato Bomb

There is a red bomb called tomato in our kitchen. The onion is also not a mismatch. It is like a tear shell. The vegetable prices are soaring high and we the people are helplessly looking to it as the government has showed its helplessness in bringing down the shooting prices.

“Short supply and likely fall in onion harvest during kharif season due to nearly 30% reduction in cultivation area have pushed up prices of the kitchen staple.” this is what the Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said a few days back.

He added the government expects a significant fall in prices with fresh arrivals from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to mandis across the country and amid reports of wholesale prices falling by 18% on Wednesday at Lasalgaon, Asia’s largest onion mandi. “There is an issue of demand and supply gap. We have taken several measures, such as procurement by agencies from areas such as Nashik in Maharashtra and Alwar in Rajasthan where the cost is lower, as well as import of onions,” he told reporters.

Responding to a specific question on the time-frame by which people can expect prices to decline, Paswan said, “I told you the facts and ground realities. It’s is not in our hands.”

The same question opposition used to ask when Manmohan Singh was PM. Singh used to give the time period that within next 3 months or so prices will come down but it didn’t worked. Things were out of control but now things are worse. Inflation at the wholesale level rose to 6-month high of 3.59 percent in October as the prices of food articles, led by onions and vegetables, rose sharply.

Inflation, based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was 2.60 percent in September. In October last year, it was 1.27 percent.

The government data shows that inflation in food articles more than doubled to 4.30 percent in October.

For vegetables, it soared to 36.61 percent in october as against 15.48 percent in September.

In case of onions, inflation skyrocketed to 127.04 percent, while for the eggs, meat and fish segment the rate of price rise was 5.76 percent.

Onion prices in Delhi are close to Rs 70 and in other major cities it’s in the range of Rs 50-60 per kg.

Paswan clarified that the Centre and states have to work together to deal with the situation and steps are being taken. He said the area under onion cultivation had reduced to 1.9 lakh hectares in 2017-18 from 2.65 lakh hectares in 2016-17. Here it is important to see that agriculture imports have increased six times faster than exports in the last 20 years.

“I have asked the Delhi government to sell onions under PDS. I have also asked Maharashtra and other state governments to sell after purchasing at lower prices,” Paswan said. He added in Nasik, onion is still being sold at Rs 32 per kg. “If you add the transport cost, then too it should not be more than Rs 40 per kg. In Rajasthan’s Alwar, it is still being sold at Rs 28 to Rs 30 a kg,” the minister said.

And there is a good news also.The arrival of onions, which was around 10,000 quintals a day last week, has almost doubled.

Paswan said tomato prices will soon start easing as supplies increase.Tomatoes are retailing at Rs 60-70 a kg.

Limited supply of tomatoes and onions have led to their prices soaring high, forcing consumers to shell out as much as Rs 80 and Rs 60, respectively for purchasing one kg of each.

Rising prices of vegetables is making it necessary for families to cut down on amount of vegetables they usually purchase to keep the budget under control.

But in case of tomatoes there will be no relief for customers in the coming days as Maharashtra received heavy rainfall in August and September that destroyed the tomato crops, which has affected its supply in now. “The other reasons for rising prices of tomatoes are purchase in bulk of tomatoes for marriages as it is marriage season.

Besides, even though winters have arrived, the prices of green vegetables have not dipped yet. One has to shell out Rs100 per kg to buy one kilo of green peas. So is with the other green vegetables.

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