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Tomatoes soar to Rs 100 a kg in retail markets

Jamshedpur, July 6 : Tomato prices have escalated to Rs 80-100 per kg in retail markets across the city. There is no definite cause for the increase, with middlemen blaming ambiguous causesófrom November’s demonetisation to the farmers’ strike in June as well as inclement weather.
Contrary to traders’ claims there is no visible shortage either. Good quality, robust red tomatoes are available at all markets at Sakchi, Bistupur and Mango.

Conversely, retail rates were Rs 35-40 per kg over Friday-Saturday, perhaps due to leftover stocks, which spiralled to Rs 60-80 Monday as retailers charged their pound of flesh. “I bought half a kilo for Rs 30 to tide over the next two days. But how long can we continue like this?” said a resident.

Tomato is a household staple without which no meal is complete. Moreover, Shravan observances are set to begin on July 10 for communities. During this time families avoid onion and garlic and rely on tomato.

One of the largest middlemen cited a slew of reasons which seemed tough to swallow. “This price increase is an outcome of notebandi. Recently there was also the farmers’ strike. Moreover, I am told the seeds have failed in south India. So this season we are relying on tomatoes from Maharashtra where a heat wave has beset certain growing areas. Also, remember that farmers have not been getting a good rate for their produce since the past year and a half. It is time they made some money.”

Asked when customers would get relief, Nitesh said, “Don’t think of customers. Why think of customers alone, think of the farmer as well.”
An expert said that tomato supply had dried up as local produce was largely seasonal here. Tomatoes from Gumla and Mandar in Ranchi district are available in the market but their quality is not up to the mark, he said.

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