Shimla, Sep 27, 2010 (Calcutta Tube) Tomatoes are going to drill a hole in consumers’ pockets in north India in the coming months as incessant rains have destroyed at least 60 percent of the crop in Himachal Pradesh.
Trade representatives said 60-70 percent of the crop in the state had perished, pushing up prices in north Indian cities.
‘More than 60 percent of the crop in tomato-growing belts in Solan, Shimla, Mandi, Sirmaur, Bilaspur and Kullu was damaged due to excess rainfall this month (September),’ Agriculture Joint Director R.K. Saroya told IANS.
Himachal Pradesh is a major tomato-producing state of the region. Tomato is grown in about 1,024 hectares in the state. In 2009-10, the total production was 338,240 tonnes.
Saroya said the maximum crop damage was witnessed during incessant rainfall in most of tomato-growing pockets from Sep 21-23.
‘There is hardly any healthy crop to reach the market,’ he added.
Govind Ram, a tomato farmer near Solan town, said this monsoon caused a lot of damage.
‘In August the crop damage percentage was 30-40 percent. This month it rose up to 70 percent. The excessive rains also took a toll on other vegetable crops including cabbage, capsicum and beans,’ he added.
Agriculture Director J.C. Rana said excessive rains took heavy a toll on vegetable crops, particularly tomato and capsicum in Solan, Shimla and Kullu districts.
He said the vegetable production this season is likely to be 5.50 lakh tonnes against the expected target of 6.50 lakh tonnes.
An official of the agriculture department said most of the remaining crop in the state was hit by the fungus disease buckeye rot and bacteria-caused leaf spot.
Sellers at the Solan wholesale vegetable market said tomato prices would again shoot up due to low supply.
The wholesale price of tomato, which fell marginally to Rs.30 a kg last week, was Rs.35 a kg Saturday and would further increase to Rs.40-45 in the coming festive season, he said.
According to the meteorological office here, the state received 858.9 mm of rain against the average of 769.9 mm from June 1-Sep 22, which is equivalent to about 12 percent surplus.
‘Shimla district alone saw 36 percent more rainfall than the average, while Sirmaur and Kullu districts saw 20 percent more than the average. Moreover, the monsoon is over by the first week of September but this year it’s still continuing,’ Met Director Manmohan Singh said.