Ranjitham, a daily wager earning six thousand rupees a month in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district, has completely cut tomatoes from her menu as tomato prices crossed Rs 200 a kilo, a four-fold rise in just three weeks.
Now she doesn’t prepare the favourite rice and sambar with tomatoes for her college going son. Instead, she prepares tamarind rice that doesn’t require the use of tomatoes.
“Without tomatoes, I make rasam and mashed greens. I also alternately prepare lemon rice, tamarind rice or curd rice without using tomatoes,” Ranjitham tells NDTV
The hike, caused by heavy rains disrupting supplies, has hit food joints in state capital Chennai as well.
The popular tomato rice is not served at a roadside eatery NDTV visited near Mylapore, though there are six other varieties including lemon, curd and tamarind rice.
“We just can’t use tomato at this price. We had stopped nearly two weeks ago,” says Suman, who runs this eatery.
A few hundred metres away, Lakshmi too has stopped selling tomato rice. She explains it’s just not viable at Rs 35 a plate.
”It hits us badly. Tomato was sold for twenty rupees a kilo and even ten rupees. Suddenly the price has gone up to Rs 200 and Rs 250, what can we do,” says Lakshmi.
In neighbouring Karnataka, a truckload of tomatoes has been hijacked yet again, the second such incident in recent days.
The Tamil Nadu government says it sells tomatoes at subsidised prices at state owned outlets But it’s too little. With the impact of heavy rain continuing tomato arrivals have not improved.
For now, the poor are forgoing tomatoes – an essential element of mainstay Indian dishes.
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