Tomato vendors are having a hard time procuring and selling tomatoes at a high prices.Image: Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty ImagesP
olice across the country have a new task on their lists: Catch the tomato thieves. Since the end of June, during the monsoon season, India has seen a significant rise in tomato prices. The increase in tomato prices has placed a financial burden on many households, with people reducing their tomato consumption or not purchasing tomatoes altogether. It has also affected tomato vendors, who are having a hard time procuring and selling tomatoes at a high prices. These developments, in turn, have resulted in more incidents of tomato thefts.
The surge in tomato prices, which has been in the range of Rs150 - Rs200/kg in several Indian cities can be attributed to a combination of factors, including delayed monsoon, inadequate production and extreme heat. The sudden rise in temperatures during March and April has also been identified as a significant cause, as it led to pest attacks on tomato crops, resulting in lower yields and higher market rates.
In order to reduce the soaring tomato prices in various Indian cities, the central government on July 14 instructed the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) to procure tomatoes and sell them at subsidised prices, ranging from Rs80 to Rs90/kg.
Bizarre tomato tales
On July 30, Chandramouli, a tomato farmer in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district became a crorepati by selling 40,000 boxes of tomatoes and making a profit of Rs3 crore in the span of 45 days, as per India Today. Where on one hand, tomatoes have become a source of wealth to some, to others it is bringing sorrow.
As per a report in The Economic Times, in Jaipur, some “unidentified miscreants” stole 150 kg of tomatoes from a local shop. Although the owner of the shop chose not to file a complaint, the president of the local mandi has issued a cautionary message to all vegetable vendors, urging them to exercise vigilance and caution in light of the incident. Also read: Makers of tomato purees are keeping up with the skyrocketing demand. For now
Another such incident took place in Bengaluru around the middle of the month where a farmer who was transporting his tomato produce from Hiriyur town in Chitradurga to Kolar was assaulted by three people who stole the tomato-laden vehicle and fled the scene. As per reports, in Karnataka, farmers have resorted to erecting tents and guarding their tomato crops to protect against such thefts which are reportedly motivated by quick financial gains.
Another incident reported in The Times of India mentions the tale of a missing tomato truck, carrying Rs20 lakh worth of tomatoes which was supposed to transport the produce from Kolar APMC yard to Jaipur on July 27. As per the report, the truck has not reached its destination and the driver’s cell phone is switched off. Also read: Percentage of Indians who have stopped buying tomatoes up from 7 percent to 14 percent: Report
In Mumbai too, vegetable vendors have filed complaints of their tomato stocks being stolen. The police have also been able to catch hold of a few thieves. As per reports, thieves have been going around the local vegetable markets late at night to find sacks full of tomatoes and steal them in an attempt to make easy money in the coming days. Due to this, the local authorities have also increased patrolling in the areas with the help of the police.