Tomato emerges one of major off-season cash crops in Himachal

by IANS |

Shimla, July 4 (IANS) Tomato is emerging as one of the major off-season cash crops in lower and mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh. Solan, Sirmaur and Kullu districts harvests 86 per cent of the state's overall production.

Off-seasonal tomato cultivation peaks during monsoon in the hills when the crop is not harvesting in plains of north India.

The state annually produces 320,700 tonnes of tomato and aims to increase its production by 498,000 tonnes.

Agriculture Minister Virender Kanwar told IANS for some farmers off-seasonal tomato cultivation is the main source of income.

About 46 per cent of the state's total plantation is in Solan district with more than 90 per cent of the produce going to markets in neighbouring states mainly Delhi.

The other tomato growing belts are Sirmaur (30 per cent) and Kullu (10 per cent), while the remaining is in Shimla, Mandi and Bilaspur districts.

Most of the farmers prefer to sell their produce through local agriculture produce market committees, whileAAAAA some send directly to Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMCs) of other states.

A group of farmers from Salogra have a market linkage with online retail stores like BigBasket. A sell the tomato produce through e-marketplace.

At present, 22,753 farmers, many of them with small landholdings, are engaged in tomato production with an annual turnover of Rs 203 crore.

Polyhouses are also being used to produce off-season vegetables, said Kanwar.

CSK Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University in Palampur has developed disease-resistant high-yielding tomato varieties. They are Palam Pink, Palam Pride, Him Pragati, Him Palam, Cherry Yellow and Palam Tomato Hybrid 1.

To promote its cultivation, the university is regularly organizing capacity building programmes, benefitting over 25,000 farmers.

The Minister said the government is also extending irrigation facilities and promoting rainwater harvesting.

For systematic diversification of crops, the Agriculture Department has chalked out a plan for the introduction of high-yielding hybrids of vegetables, popularization of a micro-irrigation system and protected cultivation. For improvement of quality, organic and natural farming is also being promoted across the state.

Subsidy to the tune of 50 per cent is being provided to the farmers for diversification of cereal crops to vegetables under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, wherein the tomato crop cultivation is also being promoted, added Kanwar.

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