Government Lifts Curbs to Allow Tomato Imports From Nepal; Veggies To Reach UP by Friday

The increase in tomato prices this year is expected to linger until October due to a tightening in supply.

New Delhi: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in parliament on Thursday (August 10) that the government has initiated tomato imports from Nepal.

The move comes amid an increase in tomato prices across the country, which reached as high as Rs 250 per kg in some markets in July.

“We have … initiated imports from Nepal by removing the import restrictions, and the first lot of tomatoes from Nepal are likely to reach Varanasi, Lucknow [and] Kanpur by Friday itself,” Sitharaman said during Thursday’s no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha.

She also spoke of other measures the government was taking to provide relief from the price rise.

“Procuring of tomatoes from tomato-growing regions of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, and also Karnataka, and distribution of these through cooperative societies like NCCF [National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation] and NAFED [National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India] are all happening,” she said.

“[In] Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan, this has already started from July 14.”

Also Read: Tomatoes: The Modi Government Has Made a PR Stunt Out of a Real Issue

Sitharaman added that mobile vans were selling tomatoes in Delhi and that the NCCF will hold a mega-sale of the vegetable in the city this weekend, selling it at a subsidised price of Rs 70 per kg.

Tomatoes experienced a runaway price rise in India starting in June due to a combination of factors including erratic monsoon rains, higher temperatures and tomato virus outbreaks.

News agency Reuters reported that although tomato prices usually start decreasing in August when the harvest reaches markets, tight supplies this year may cause prices to remain high until October.

Other crops have been affected by the monsoon as well. The resulting increase in food prices is expected to likewise push retail inflation levels above the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) upper target of 6%.

The RBI’s monetary policy committee said on Thursday that it projected consumer price inflation for Q2 this year at 6.2%.