The Union government will import tomatoes from neighbouring countries, such as Nepal, to meet demand and reduce prices of the household staple.
Speaking at the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government was undertaking steps to curb the inflationary effect on essential commodities. “India has initiated tomato imports from Nepal by removing import restrictions,” she told the house during her address, as part of the debate on the no-confidence motion.
The first lot of imports is expected to reach Varanasi, Lucknow and Kanpur by Friday, she said. The National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation is expected to host a sale of tomatoes at a subsidised rate of Rs 70 per kg this weekend at various localities in the Delhi-National Capital Region.
Tomatoes have been procured from producer states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, and distributed since July 14 in Bihar, West Bengal, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh by the NCCF and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India.
Sitharaman said that over 8 lakh kg of tomatoes had been distributed in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the NCR so far.
Tomatoes are being procured from the Kolar mandi (wholesale market) in Karnataka at a subsidised price of Rs 88 per kg and the wholesale price is below Rs 100 per kg in Andhra Pradesh, the minister said.
In a report on Aug. 7, ratings agency Crisil Ltd. released a monthly indicator of the average cost of preparing a plate of food at home based on prevailing input prices. It said that the price of a vegetarian thali increased by 28% in July. Of this, a 22% increase is attributed to tomatoes, which rose to Rs 110/kg in July from Rs 33/kg in June, according to the report.
Onion has also been procured to the effect of three lakh tonne, Sitharaman said.
Answering a parliamentary question on Monday, she had said that to stabilise the volatility in onion prices, the government has increased the buffer size, from which onions are released in major consumption centres during the lean production season of September–December.
Prices Of Pulses Soar
The government is also taking steps to curb the inflationary effect of pulses as sufficient stock is available and aggressive disposal measures are being undertaken, Sitharaman said.
Tur imports in the current year are lower than last year. A shipment from Mozambique is on the way. In terms of urad dal, 3.3 lakh tonne is expected to be imported from Myanmar to cool down prices, according to Sitharaman.
The procurement of masoor dal stock via imports to add to buffer reserves has also been initiated, along with the conversion of chana into chana dal for retail disposal, she said. “We are taking enough steps, but more will also be taken as we are conscious that people need essentials at affordable prices.”
Source : BQ Prime