IIHR has developed a technology to help farmers
Call it an irony of sorts. Tomato farmers have been dumping their produce on the roads in some parts of northern Karnataka to express their anguish as the prices have crashed to less than Re. 1 a kg due to the glut in production. They are forced to either sell their produce for throw-away prices or discard it because they cannot store this perishable vegetable.
But what is not much publicised among farmers is that a technology is available for turning it into ready-to-use crushed tomato which can be stored for a minimum of six months in room temperature and one year under refrigerated condition.
The main objective of this technology developed by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) is to bail out farmers from distress sales during a glut situation.
Tomato crush is nothing but a concentrated tomato pulp with seeds and peel which could be used as a substitute to fresh tomatoes while preparing food. It can also be used as a raw material for other processed tomato products such as sauce and ketchup, according to scientists.
C.K. Narayana, principal scientist, and head of the IIHR’s post-harvest technology division, says that even a SSLC-passed person could handle this technology that could be used in any scale right from cottage industry to a big industry.
It would require an investment of Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh to set up a cottage industry that could be operated out of a small room with 10x10 ft space, and produce 50 kg of crush a day.
One kg of ready-to-use crush would require 3 kg of fresh tomatoes and hence its power is also three-times more than the fresh ones, he notes.
According to him, it will cost Rs. 20 to Rs. 25 to prepare a kg of crush.
He suggests that it is better for a group of farmers or farm organisations to set up this industry on a big scale so that the benefits can be passed on to farmers themselves in the form of remunerative prices. “While farmers can get remunerative prices, consumers can buy crushed tomatoes at normal prices even when the prices of fresh tomatoes shoot up,” he said.