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Price of tomatoes soars 400% in India as heatwaves and flooding hit crops

A vendor puts tomatoes in a single use plastic cover at a wholesale vegetable market in Hyderabad, India, 30 June 2022.
A vendor puts tomatoes in a single use plastic cover at a wholesale vegetable market in Hyderabad, India, 30 June 2022. Copyright AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
Copyright AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
By Angela Symons
Published on Updated
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Extreme heatwaves and flooding have caused price of tomatoes to soar by 400% in India, with crops requiring 'bodyguards'.

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India’s extreme weather is taking its toll on crops, with tomato crops being hit especially hard.

Tomatoes have become so expensive that shops need ‘bodyguards’ to protect them, Vice news reports.

Prices have soared by 400 per cent in recent weeks with a kilogram now costing more than a litre of petrol.

What’s behind India’s tomato shortage?

High rainfall and scorching heatwaves have caused flash floods, landslides and hundreds of deaths in India in recent weeks. The unseasonable weather has also led the country to face a severe tomato shortage as crops are ravaged by disease.

Prices in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi have risen from 40 rupees (€0.44) per kilo to over 160 rupees (€1.76), UK newspaper The Guardian reports. Just months earlier, the commercial price of tomatoes had plummeted to less than two rupees (€0.02), devastating farmers.

As a key ingredient in a lot of Indian cooking, many households are now turning to tinned products to fill the gap.

Even fast-food chain McDonald’s has announced it is no longer serving tomatoes.

The skyrocketing prices have also led thieves to target farms and delivery trucks, Vice reports.

India faces deadly weather extremes

In June, a searing heatwave hit India with temperatures reaching 43.5 degrees Celsius.

Hospitals in two of the country’s most populous states became overwhelmed and morgues were filled to capacity, with almost 170 people dead.

July has brought little respite and New Delhi recorded its wettest July day in 40 years this week as flooding killed at least 100 people in northern India.

Red alerts (the highest level of warning) were issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in the northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana as heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides.

India is not the only country to face deadly flooding in recent weeks. Japan saw its “heaviest rain ever” earlier this week, while Vermont in the US is currently facing catastrophic rainfall leading to a state of emergency being declared.

Parts of Europe, too, have faced torrential rains, with a state of emergency being declared in northwestern Bulgaria last month.

Weather extremes are likely to get more frequent and more extreme due to human-made greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace warns.

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