Tomato growers in Maharashtra’s drough-hit regions are increasingly turning towards drip irrigation as a solution. Over the last couple of years, around 70% of the state's tomato cultivation has come under the system.
Tomato growers in Maharashtra’s drough-hit regions are increasingly turning towards drip irrigation as a solution. Over the last couple of years, around 70% of the state’s tomato cultivation has come under the system.
According to Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI), although Vidarbha and Marathwada regions have been reeling under drought conditions, the plantation for summer in the state has been up to 3 lakh per hectare, the same as last year. This is because farmers have been using the drip system, which has resulted in 20% more yield, he pointed out.
The use of mulching paper is also on the rise and special trials are being conducted on tomato by farmers in several parts of the country, he said, adding that drip irrigation is turning out to be a very effective solution as it also prevents disease.
Last year, the tomato crop was affected by Karpa disease and whitefly attacks. The plantation was attacked due to paucity of rains and therefore farmers have increasingly begun to use drip as a solution, Gadhave said.
At Pimpalgaon in Nashik, one of the biggest markets for tomato, wholesale prices were hovering around R6 per kg. Gadhave, who was recently in Gujarat to discuss possibilities of synergy between farmer producer companies, said that farmers in this state as well have taken to drip and there is a rise in tomato production in Gujarat.
Gadhave’s association that runs a tomato auction at Narayangaon near Pune says that at least 300 trucks of tomatoes arrive at the auction on a daily basis. One truck contains some 16 tonne of the commodity. Both Nashik and Pune are considered major tomato producers and see some 1,600 truckloads of arrivals on a daily basis.
Gadhave’s organisation has been running the Narayangaon open tomato auction as an experiment to eliminate the middleman and help farmers get better prices for their produce. Over the years, the tomato auction has attracted the attention of other states as a model.
Nashik is the main supplier of tomatoes to most parts of the country. Pimpalgaon supplies tomatoes to other markets like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana. It also exports tomatoes to countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Tomatoes are cultivated by farmers in Narayangaon near Pune, Nashik, Beed and Pusegaon among other areas. In Narayangaon alone, around 18,000 acre has come under tomato cultivation resulting in a production of some 1,400 tonne a day. About 40,000 hectares come under tomato plantation in Pimpalgaon. The season at Pimpalgaon will continue till November-December. Around 1.25 lakh hectare comes under tomato cultivation in Nashik district every year and it remains the same this year as well.
The tomato season lasts from June to October every year. In Nashik, another tomato growing region, the season starts from August to September.