Tomato prices in Maharashtra, India, have dropped dramatically from Rs 200 per kilogram to as low as Rs 3-5 per kilogram, causing significant losses for tomato growers. The sudden decline in prices was due to an unexpectedly high tomato yield. Many farmers are abandoning their crops or destroying their produce as they cannot recover their investment. The situation is dire in various regions, with prices plunging in markets.

The price of tomatoes in Maharashtra has plummeted from around Rs 200 per kilogram just a month ago to as low as Rs 3-5 per kilogram, leaving tomato growers in the state grappling with significant losses and few options. This sudden decline in prices was triggered by an unexpectedly high tomato yield, catching everyone involved in the sector off guard, , the Times of India has reported today.

As per the report, many farmers are either abandoning their tomato crops or are destroying their produce, as they cannot even recover half of their investment. A farmer typically requires Rs 2 lakh in capital to cultivate tomatoes on a one-acre plot.

In Pune, tomato prices have plunged to as low as Rs 5 per kilogram in the market. In Nashik, the average wholesale tomato prices have dropped significantly over the past six weeks, plummeting from Rs 2,000 per crate (20 kilograms) to Rs 90 at the three wholesale mandis in Pimpalgaon, Nashik, and Lasalgaon.

The situation is equally dire in Kolhapur, where tomatoes are now being sold at Rs 2-3 per kilogram in retail markets, compared to around Rs 220 per kilogram just a month ago.

Farmers in Junnar and Ambegaon tehsils in Pune district have been abandoning tomato plantations as prices dipped in the wholesale markets over the past few weeks.

The largest wholesale tomato market in Maharashtra, Pimpalgaon APMC, is currently auctioning approximately 2 lakh crates of tomatoes daily.

According to statistics from the state agriculture department, the average tomato acreage in Nashik district is around 17,000 hectares, with a production of 6 lakh metric tonnes. However, this year, tomato cultivation doubled to 35,000 hectares, with an estimated production of 12.17 lakh metric tonnes.

Sharad Gongade, the secretary of the Narayangaon tomato market, explained, “In July, when wholesale prices shot up to Rs 3,200 per crate in the Narayangaon market of Pune district, many farmers started tomato cultivation in anticipation of a windfall. Their calculation went haywire after the bumper yield.”

The crisis has forced farmers like Vivek Pati, from Solapur district, to take drastic measures. Pati chose to destroy his entire tomato crop, which he had cultivated on his one-and-a-half-acre plot, as the cost of harvesting and transporting the produce to the market would have resulted in even greater losses. He shared that he would have spent Rs 8,500 on harvesting and transportation, only to earn Rs 4,000 per crate in return.

Many other farmers in Solapur district have faced similar predicaments, leading them to let tomatoes rot in their fields or destroy the crops with tractors.

In response to this dire situation, a group of farmers from Junnar and Ambegaon tehsils have convened and planned a protest in Mumbai. They are demanding the implementation of an MSP for tomatoes to protect against the volatility of prices.

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