Tomato, mango prices soar across India as heatwave scorches crop

An unusual heatwave that started at the beginning of the summer this year has impacted the tomato and mango crop, driving up their prices beyond ₹100 a kilo in many parts of the country.

Tomato prices have soared to ₹100 per kg in the past fortnight. In some places like Bhubaneswar, it costs ₹120 a kg.

Mango production in Uttar Pradesh, the largest producer, is expected to be the lowest in two decades, with 80% of the crop being damaged due to the heatwave. While prices have crossed ₹100 per kg in most of the markets in northern and southern India, lower production will also hurt India’s exports of the fruit.

Shriram Gadhave, president of the Vegetable Growers Association of India, said the prices of tomatoes would cool off only in July, “when the new crop comes”.

The rising prices of tomato, a common vegetable in Indian households, may further add to the worries of the government, which is trying to keep a check on food inflation that accelerated to a 17-month high of 8.38% in April.

“The change in climatic condition has resulted in pest attacks in the tomato crop. Supply has gone down drastically,” said Gadhave.

Mango Production in Andhra Hit Too

“For instance, if earlier an acre of area would have yielded 10 tonnes of tomatoes, it is now giving 3 tonnes. Due to the heatwave, the tomato flowers are dying, which too is impacting production,” he added.

India typically produces 21-23 million tonnes of tomatoes annually. While the tomato crop has been severely hit by the heatwave, the early onset of summer and continuing heatwaves has affected mango production.

S Insram Ali, president of the Mango Growers Association of India, said the heatwave had affected mango flowers. Mangoes grow best at 27 degree centigrade, he said. Uttar Pradesh produces 4.5 million tonnes of mangoes a year, he said, adding: “Farmers will face a huge loss due to this (fall in output).”

UP has a 23.47% share in India’s mango production and the highest productivity, according to the Agriculture and Processed Food Product Development Authority.

“Mango production in Andhra Pradesh has also been hit by the unusual heatwave and early onset of summer,” said a producer from the southern state.

Lower production is going to impact export of fresh mango fruits to countries like the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. “We doubt whether exports will at all take place this year. Whatever crop is left will be consumed domestically,” said Ali.

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