The Centre has announced the Tomato Grand Challenge (TGC) hackathon aimed at addressing the availability and affordability of tomatoes for consumers and ensuring fair value for tomato farmers. The challenge has invited innovative ideas across the tomato value chain. Winning ideas will be evaluated, developed into prototypes, and implemented on a large scale.

Through this challenge, the Government also aims to tackle price fluctuations that come from seasonal variations, supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions and local production surpluses. Interested participants can apply through the official portal of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

A similar exercise was done when onion prices increased some time ago. Union Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said his Ministry had then received 13 ideas on adding value and controlling prices of onion.

He said the tomato production seasons are different across regions. “The cycle of planting and harvesting seasons and the variation across regions are primarily responsible for price seasonality in tomato. Apart from the normal price seasonality, temporary supply chain disruptions and crop damage due to adverse weather conditions etc. often led to sudden spike in prices,” he added.

Incentive for onion farmers

Talking to reporters, Mr. Singh said to ensure that onion prices do not increase during the upcoming festival season and the winter, the Consumer Affairs Ministry had asked the Union Agriculture Ministry to give incentives to farmers to cultivate onion during the ongoing kharif season.

“The country’s onion production is estimated at 319 lakh tonne in 2023, slightly lower than 324 lakh tonne in the previous year,” Mr. Singh said. Adding that the Centre had procured three lakh tonne for buffer stock, he said: “The moment onion availability is ensured throughout the calendar year, prices will fall. These crops are seasonal and at some point, there will be a deficit. If you spread the production plus storage, the spike in prices can be avoided.”