Year-round production and establishment of value chain for rural entrepreneurship in tomato
Tomatoes are an important and popular vegetable and production is widespread but the main producing areas are Jessore, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Bogra, Chittagong and Norshingdi districts. Bagharpara Upazila in Jessore district in the South-West is well known for tomato production, especially summer tomatoes. This area supplies a major share of tomatoes in Dhakka markets. Tomatoes have become a major cash crop and a good income earner for farmers although crops are subject to disease, which can lead to huge field losses, and to gluts which can result in dumping of unsold or unmarketable produce. Lack of observance of export market requirements is leading to reduction in exports.
During discussion with farmers it was revealed that farmers are not aware of the value chain. Due to the lack of organized marketing linkages and poor trust among the actors, farmers are not getting the expected profit from tomato cultivation. They emphasized the need for cold storage near the producing areas for getting fair price during the summer tomato season and peak period of winter tomatoes. Farmers showed interest in market chain development and seasonal credit facilities.
Numerous public, private and NGO organizations are involved in supporting tomato farmers and traders in both pre-and postharvest activities and marketing but losses are still large, quality can be poor and farm-gate prices low. There is a need for more concerted, farmer-oriented research, extension, advice and market linkage efforts to supply good quality nutritious produce for consumption and processing at fair prices. Farmer groups need functional skills to direct research to sustainable production and negotiate with buyers to meet their needs. Innovation Platforms in the main producing districts could be supported for farmers and market actors to gain these skills.