Trouble For Tomato
Down To Earth|April 01, 2019
Trouble For Tomato

Country's biggest tomato producing district surrenders to cheap Chinese pulp

Gundluru Rammohan

Happiness and hope for better days surrounded the tomato farmers of Chittoor and nearby areas in Andhra Pradesh last year when the Central government hand-picked the district for it's One District One Product (ODOP) scheme. The project was announced after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his 2018 Budget speech, said the Centre will support the production, processing, and marketing of tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. But the current market conditions show there is little reason to be gung-ho about ODOP.

Chittoor, the largest producer of tomatoes in the country, houses Asia’s biggest tomato market. The yard in Madanapalli division, that can hold 800 tonnes tomatoes per day, often has to accept a good 1,684 tonnes. It sends the produce to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi.

To help the farmers in post-harvest activities, ODOP aims to develop farmer producer organizations (FPOS), agri-logistics, processing facilities, and professional management. Andhra Pradesh will help in the capacity building of 15,000 farmers who are part of FPOS. “We will provide 20 refrigerated trucks to FPOS to transport tomatoes to godowns,” says Y S Prasad, chief executive officer of Andhra Pradesh Food Processing Society. Storage facilities of 5,000 tonnes each will be set up in Rajamahendravaram and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, and in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka so that farmers can wait to get a better price for their crop without the danger of crop damage. Nurseries will be set up to produce quality seeds. Andhra Pradesh also plans to start an online trading platform. “The total cost of ODOP in Andhra Pradesh is 110 crore. In early March, the Centre allocated 50 crore to the state,” says Prasad.

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April 01, 2019