Prices of three staple food items – tomato, potato and pulses – have skyrocketed because of a supply shortage caused by excessive heat this summer and insufficient rains last year. While tomatoes are being priced at Rs 100/kg in certain parts of the country, a kg of potatoes is going for Rs 20. Pulses are the most expensive of the lot, with arhar dal touching Rs 170/kg and urad dal costing as much as Rs 196/kg, reported The Times of India.
The government's efforts to maintain a buffer stock of pulses for such situations have not been of much help either. The country is facing a shortage of 7.6 million tonnes of pulses at present, according to NDTV. The Narendra Modi government has initiated imports to the tune of 39,000 tonnes, of which only 14,000 tonnes have reached the country so far. Of the stock that has reached, only 7,000 tonnes have made it to the markets till last week.
The state governments are playing spoilers in the scenario as they not inclined to lift the pulses being offered by the Centre. "Everything can't be always blamed on the Centre. State governments also need to do their bit," Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.
In case of tomatoes, the farming of which is not entirely dependent on rain, the price hike is being attributed to crop damage from the heat. While the government has maintained that rise in prices is a seasonal phenomenon, data published by the Department of Consumer Affairs and the National Horticulture Board show that in most cities, prices have increased by 100-200% between April and June.
Interestingly, the Agriculture Ministry had estimated 18.2 million metric tonne of tomato production in 2015-16, an increase of almost 2 million metric tonne from that last year. A blight in Bengal fields is assumed to be responsible for the high potato prices.