At a time when the tomato prices are going through the roof, farmers and traders in the Madanapalle division, Asia’s largest tomato growing belt, say that the dip in the yield may drive the prices beyond the ₹100-mark during the festive season of Dasara and Deepavali.
The tomato price stood at ₹52 a kg as the arrival to Madanapalle market was put at 156 tonnes on Friday. The vegetable was available at ₹10 a kg on August 9 when the daily arrival was put at 510 tonnes.
Tomato is cultivated in over 6,000 hectares in Annamayya district, followed by 2,000 hectares in Chittoor district.
However, the horticulture officials are hopeful of bumper yields from November onwards. They say the dip in the yields is due to the ‘final stages of the old crop pattern’.
Allying the fears of consumers, the officials term the situation as ‘temporary’. The coming months may see stabilisation of prices and jump in yields, they say.
Farmers from Valmikipuram and Madanapalle mandals in Annamayya district deplore that inclement weather that has prevailed in the region for a month has taken a toll on the yield. The crop has bore the brunt of rain in the last leg of harvesting.
“Heavy soil moisture has started showing a telling effect on the crop. Even as the market prices are good, the yield has hit the low of 150 tonnes a day. By this time, the daily yield should have been around 2,000 tonnes. We fear that the farmers in Annamayya district may incur a loss running into crores before November,” says Manju, a tomato grower from Valmikipuram.
District Horticulture Officer (Annamayya district) Ravichandra Babu says that the exports from the Madanapalle region has been mostly confined to Tamil Nadu and Kerala of late. “Even as tomato farmers have suffered a lot due to rain in Anantapur district this season, the situation is different here. Once new crops get ready for harvesting, the prices may be stabilised,” he says.
Deputy Director of Horticulture (Chittoor) T. Madhusudhan Reddy says that the tomato stocks are commanding a good price now. “Reports of crop damage and losses to farmers are sporadic in Chittoor,” he adds.