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Tuesday, July 4, 2023

worrying Tomato price !! - Eyes could be deceptive !!

“The rich should live simpler so that the poor could simply live”- in life, often we are worried about small things, things that have a measly % impact.  Away, this morning looking at this board – thought what is the fuss all about – before you decide, do see the larger picture at the end of the post too.

Tomato is an essential ingredient in our food – is that a fruit ?  -  Tomato is the edible berry of the plant Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as the tomato plant. The species originated in western South America, Mexico, and Central America.  The Nahuatl word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato derived. Its domestication and use as a cultivated food may have originated with the indigenous peoples of Mexico.  The Aztecs used tomatoes in their cooking at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, and after the Spanish encountered the tomato for the first time after their contact with the Aztecs, they brought the plant to Europe, in a widespread transfer of plants known as the Columbian exchange.  

From there tomato spread to colonial cousins !  -  Tomatoes are  consumed in diverse ways: raw or cooked, and in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks. While tomatoes are fruits—botanically classified as berries—they are commonly used culinarily as a vegetable ingredient or side dish.

Miles away, La Tomatina  is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, in which participants throw tomatoes at each other. It is held the last Wednesday in August, during the week of festivities of Buñol.     It is stated that in  1945, during a parade of gigantes y cabezudos, young men who wanted to participate in the event staged a brawl. Since there was a vegetable stand nearby, they picked up tomatoes and used them as weapons. The police had to intervene to break up the fight, and forced those responsible to pay the damages incurred.  From next year onwards, youngsters who repeated started bringing tomatoes and the repeat was unofficially established is how it is believed to have started.

In Spain, trucks loads of tomatoes are used for this.   The tomatoes reportedly  come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the holidays, being of inferior taste.   The tomatoes are crushed before being thrown so as to reduce the risk of injury.  It is termed as the 'World's Biggest Food Fight' where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.    After exactly one hour, the fighting ends when the water cannons are fired once more to signal the end. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct.

There was so much hue and cry about increasing tomato prices !  - days  after surging tomato prices across the country set forth a sour discourse, reports have emerged of chilli and ginger prices rising to nearly Rs 400 per kg in certain parts of India.  While in Chennai, green chilli prices retailed at Rs 100 per kg, prices of green chillies and ginger have touched Rs 350 per kg in Kolkata, TOI reported.   The reason for the increase was the drastic drop in the arrival of chilli over the past few days,   

Paradoxically, the rising prices do no good for its grower !  - in general, when prices go up, the one who makes it should get higher profit .. .. nay, not for tomatoes. 

It is not the sordid tale of small and marginal farmer.  Newspaper report quoting a big time farmer from a major tomato belt of Maharashtra states that – the  first lot of 37.5 tonnes  was sold in the third week of April at Rs 5/kg; the second of 50 tonnes in mid-May Rs at 12/kg. That translates into a weighted average realisation of Rs 12.25/kg for the 100-tonnes produce.   The cost of  cultivation was around Rs 1.5 lakh per acre.   While the return on investment in summer tomatoes seems high, it’s only due to yields that not every farmer can harvest. “There is too much of a price risk in this crop. Those who cannot harvest high yields will either not grow or abandon the crop midway, if prices crash like they did in April. You are currently paying so much for tomatoes because most farmers decided not to harvest after their first picking, which fetched Rs 3-5/kg,” explained that farmer  who persisted with his pickings through May-June and made money on their sales.

Well, in case you too read the price of tomato stated on the board  to be Rs.27 per kg – you need an eye check-up for rows mismatch.  Actually the board reads Rs.125 per kg for Tomato and Rs. 27 for coconut. 

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th July 2023. 

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