Retail prices of tomatoes, mandi, onions are rising, but potatoes are dipping.

As of January 23, onion retail prices are 36 percent higher than a year ago, tomato 25 percent, and potato prices 2 percent lower. If consumers pay more, farmers have noticed the price increase and the share of the increase is almost the same. An industry analysis based on data collected by the Agmarknet portal showed that average mandi prices of tomatoes rose 26.2 percent in January (1-23) to ₹ 1,407/quintal from ₹ 1,115 y-o-y. and onion 23 percent at ₹ 1,586/cent to ₹ 1,288. In contrast, the average price of potato fell by 13.5 percent to ₹ 891-771 per quintal.

Overview of the price surge

According to official data, the intervention of the Ministry of Consumers proved to be more effective than the Green Operation program managed by the Ministry of Food. When the Tomatoes, Onions and Potatoes (TOP) operation was launched, it was planned that both consumers and farmers would benefit from maintaining reasonable and stable prices throughout the year and avoiding sudden fluctuations.

Referring to the recent intervention in the onion case, the official said the consumer protection ministry through cooperatives like Nafed and NCCF managed to sell onions to consumers at ₹ 25/kg despite higher procurement costs. This particular move ensured a revision of the open market price, which could have crossed ₹ 100/kg. According to an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, however, the “TOP” system was intended to protect farmers against falling prices and was not intended for consumers. In the TOP program, the center provides 50 percent support for the transportation of these crops from production to the warehouse and for renting suitable warehouses.

No follow-up

The Ministry of Food actually opened a portal in February 2020 to forecast the wholesale prices of TOP vegetables for three months. The website will help the government monitor the supply situation in time to intervene in the market if the price collapses during saturation. However, such monitoring does not appear, because the government can also receive a warning if prices start to rise three months in advance, said an official source.

Now that all-India average retail price of onion was ₹ 37/kg and tomato at ₹ 32/kg on January 23, while both are largely available at ₹ 40/kg in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Many people feel that they can walk more in the summer when prices are usually higher than in the winter.

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