Red hot tomato prices: More processing units and integrated cold chains can be the solution     - The Hindu BusinessLine

Tomatoes have vanished from menus as prices continue to skyrocket. It is not only the shortage of fresh tomatoes in the market but also, the unavailability of primary processed products like tomato paste, pulp, and juice, which could be converted into secondary products that has added to the crisis.  

Tomato processing remains one of the most neglected sectors in India even as processed tomato products have wide applications in the household, food processing industry, snacks, hotels, restaurants, and fast food retail chains. India has 11 per cent of share in the global tomato production, but less than 1 per cent of India’s tomato production is processed.  Coconut Water Production Line

Red hot tomato prices: More processing units and integrated cold chains can be the solution      - The Hindu BusinessLine

Normal price seasonality, supply chain disruptions, and crop damage led to spikes in prices and a glut in production, resulting in a dip in prices. But in order to check volatility in retail prices, the availability of processed tomatoes needs to increase. 

Also read: Nafed, NCCF asked to sell tomatoes at discounted rates in bid to cool prices

Various stakeholders in the processing industry need to respond with more enthusiasm to the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) that encourages food processing infrastructure and integrated cold chain that could help control the fluctuating tomato prices and post-harvest losses of about 13 per cent. The PMKSY is a demand-driven scheme and Expressions of Interest (EoIs) are issued for its sub-schemes inviting proposals from prospective entrepreneurs/ investors. 

A total fund of ₹4,099.76 crore has been allocated for the period from 2017-18 to 2022-23 under various sub-schemes of PMKSY. These schemes include food parks, infrastructure for agro-processing clusters, new food processing and preservation plants and expansion of the old plants, development of integrated cold chain, and implementation of Operation Green schemes.   

The Budget 2018-19 announced the launch of ‘Operation Greens’ for the integrated development of the Tomato, Onion, and Potato (TOP) crops value chain. The scheme was introduced as a new vertical of PMKSY. In 2021-22, the government expanded the scheme to other 22 perishable products, including mango, banana, apple, etc.  

Also read: High tomato, pulses prices raise average cost of Indian thali in June: report

Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra are among the major tomato producing States in the country. These States account for about 90 per cent of the total production in India. Southern and Western regions, being surplus States, provide tomatoes to other markets in the country. 

The Ministry of Food Processing data shows that tomato-growing States have not shown keen interest in applying for schemes under PMKSY. Except for Maharashtra, no other State has applied for even 100 schemes. Out of the allocated amount (₹4,099.76 crore), ₹3,312.63 crore has been released in the form of grants-in-aid for setting up food processing industries under various schemes. Under sub-schemes of PMKSY, in total, 1,098 projects have been approved with grants-in-aid of ₹8,117.00 crore for setting up food processing industries. 

Also read: Tomato-nomics — Behind the kitchen staple’s soaring prices

According to the World Vegetable Center report titled ‘India processing Tomato Segment’ tomato-based processed food consumption in India is growing at an annual rate of more than 30 per cent creating massive demand for existing processors. “A wide range of value-added products are produced from tomatoes, including tomato juice, paste, diced/peeled tomatoes, strained tomato pulp, ketchup, pasta, pickles and pizza sauces, salsa, gravies, ready-to-eat (RTE) curries, and tomato-based powder products” the report adds.  

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Red hot tomato prices: More processing units and integrated cold chains can be the solution      - The Hindu BusinessLine

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