Tomato prices glow red hot!
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Tomato prices glow red hot!

The vegetable is selling for Rs 60 a kg in Gurgaon, thanks to the first monsoon showers disrupting the supply chain. Residents are reeling from this sudden price spike.

Tomato prices glow red hot! Picture used for representative purposes only.

The other day I was really craving tomato juice. It's supposed to be good for the heart, dense in nutrients and vitamins, and a natural remedy for indigestion. So I went out to the local vegetable vendor to buy myself a kilo, kicked about my healthy choice of drink. Except that I came back bewildered and empty-handed. 

Tomatoes, I heard, were now selling at Rs 60 a kg, double what I had bought them for yesterday! Well, my health choices would just have to wait.    

It seemed the monsoon's first shower had impacted the price of vegetables in Gurgaon. The city gets 4,500 to 5,000 quintals of vegetables every day, and the supply chain was disrupted because of the rain. Although there was no increase in wholesale rates, the effect was clear when it came to retail.

Vinay Yadav, secretary of the Gurgaon Market Committee, said, “If it rains continuously, the prices of onion and potato could also go up by 30 per cent. The rains have disrupted the smooth supply of vegetables, and retailers use this to ratchet up prices.”

Krishan Pal, president of the Vegetable Wholesalers Committee, said that the increase in diesel rates and the downpour, both at the same time, have affected the market. 

Posh localities in New Gurgaon, which includes Nirvana Country, South City, Sushant Lok and parts of DLF, were most affected, as some residents even had to pay Rs 65 a kg for tomatoes. The prices are likely to go up further, as the supply to the Gurgaon wholesale market has gone down to almost half in the past couple of days.

Residents said that vegetables were selling for at least Rs 15 to Rs 20 cheaper on e-commerce websites and apps such as Grofers, PepperTap and BigBasket. “I went to buy tomatoes at a local store and the owner was selling them at Rs 55 a kg. I was shocked, because only a few days ago the price was Rs 30. When I checked online, many sites were still selling tomatoes at Rs 35 a kg,” said Madhumita, a resident of DLF Phase II.

The sudden rise in price has forced residents to rethink their budget. "It is surprising to see how vegetable prices have shot up all of a sudden. I've already exhausted my grocery budget for the month, and I will have to cut corners elsewhere to keep my monthly budget in check," said Sidharth Nanda, who works for a telecom company in the city.

Sita Ram, a vegetable wholesaler, said, “The hike in fuel prices has resulted in a 10-15 per cent rise in vegetable prices, and the rest is because the rains spoilt most of the crops.” His views are shared by local farmers. 

“It started with tomatoes, but now this price hike has spread to onions, peas and garlic. What are we supposed to eat? The vegetable market here is expensive in comparison with the mandi, which is pretty far off. A few retail stores have good schemes, but they are few and far between," says Sonia Arya, a homemaker and a resident of Shishpal Vihar, Sector 49.

Still thinking of buying tomatoes this week? I would guess not.