Tomato farming – Profitable farming series

Tomato farming in India
Profitable farming

For farming to be profitable, you’ll have to think of revenue instead of produce. Storage is a good option, but won’t help much. Tomato is a seasonal crop and we have to first understand the current situation and problems of tomato cultivators, before going for the solutions.

Tomato transplanting and harvesting period

RegionTransplantingHarvesting period
Southern & Western StatesJune-July
October-November
January-February
August-September
December-February
March-June
Northern & Eastern StatesOctober-November
January-February
January-March
March-June
Hilly StatesMay-June
October-November
July-September
December-March

Major tomato-growing states

Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu contribute to 91% of total production.

Pricing history

Tomato prices for farmers of Kolar, Karnataka crashed to Rs. 2-3 per kg in May 2017.

Solutions

There is no universal solution for the issue, but a combo of some of the following suggestions might be helpful.

Cooperative Societies

Selling tomatoes is not a good option for farmers, but selling processed food is not their forte as well. So what can be done? Forming cooperative could be a better approach. Then they can start mini-processing units for their extra produce to increase revenue. Market demand and supply drives the pricing of tomatoes (just like any other vegetable). Cold storage is not a feasable / practical solution at-least for small farmers. But tomato growers generally have adjacent farms and they can form cooperatives to better negotiate prices in markets. Cooperatives can also help them in segregating work and better resource utilisation. They can share the burden of input costs and capital goods like tractors. They can pool up their land resources and plan for better growing strategies.

The most important thing is that they set up mini-processing units to convert their tomatoes into puree, sauces, ketchup, juices, and other edible products. Processing increases the shelf-life and prices of tomatoes. They can then be sold to marketing agencies like Patanjali, Kissan, etc. They can be sold via retail chains like Reliance Fresh, Wallmart, etc. They can also be sold in collaboration with successful cooperatives like Amul, Mother Dairy etc. Cooperatives can be market and brand in their own names as well. The primary difference between selling tomatoes and tomato puree is the increased pricing, reduced transportation, storage and selling costs without negligible increase in processing costs. The best part is that the capacity of this facility can be regulated so as to maintain a healthy output mix of raw tomatoes and processed products.

Cooperatives can gain the financial and managerial skills to hire skilled minds. They can further strengthen the negotiating power of farmers and facilitate better access to latest technologies and techniques for cultivation, processing and marketing.

Shelf life comparison

ProductNormal Shelf LifeRefrigerated Shelf Life
Raw tomato1 week2 week
Canned tomato1 year – 18 months (unopened)7 days (opened)
Tomato Juice
Tomato Puree1 month (properly packed)2 months
Tomato ketchup

Sources

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