NEW DELHI: Lured by high profits, Indian traders are flooding the Pakistan market with tomatoes, affecting domestic supplies and pushing up prices back home.
Truck loads of tomatoes sourced from Delhi and Nashik are entering Pakistan through Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar daily, traders said.
“As many as 80-90 trucks of tomatoes (each carrying about 16 tonnes) are crossing Attari-Wagah border every day,” Rajdeep Singh Uppal, vice-president, Amritsar Export Association said.
This has been happening for over two weeks, he said, adding that the trend is expected to continue for a month.
Rajendra Sharma, a member of Delhi agriculture marketing board, said supply of tomatoes to Pakistan is one of the reasons for continued high retail prices of the vegetable in Delhi at Rs 20-25 a kg.
Rajendra Chug, general secretary of Delhi’s Azadpur market (Asia’s biggest vegetables & fruits market) said that on average 10-12 trucks laden with tomatoes are heading for Pakistan everyday.
Uppal and Chug said rush of tomatoes to Pakistan is triggered by relatively high prices there because of damage to the crop due to floods in the key producing Sindh region.
Chug said the Indian tomato is selling between Rs 25-30 (Indian currency) a kg in Pakistan. The price of the same vegetable in Delhi stood from Rs 8-15 per kg in wholesale, traders in the Azadpur market said.
Uppal said Indian tomato is selling for around USD 350-400 (Rs 17,850-Rs 20,400) per tonne in Pakistan.
Ajit Shah, president of Mumbai based agriculture export association said around 100-125 tonnes of tomatoes from Nashik is finding its way to Pakistan by road through Wagah.
R P Gupta, director, NHRDF (established by agri- cooperative Nafed for research and improving productivity of agri crops) said tomato production reaches a high level in the Nashik district of Maharashtra between September and October.
It is also the only region during the period to produce the staple vegetable.
Key tomatoes producing regions like Nashik, Pune and Ahmadnagar provide the supplies to the entire northern region including Delhi during the period, Gupta said.
The mild climate in the region during this period is best suited for cultivation of tomatoes, the NHRDF (National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation) director said.
Nearly 2,000 tonnes of tomatoes are arriving in Pimpalgaon market yard daily, Gupta said.