Tomato production in J&K

Om Raj Katoch

Vegetables are very important ingredients of our food system and tomato is one important of them. Tomato is said to be the native of South America and was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 16th century and it became popular in India within the last seven decades. The tomatoes are now grown and eaten worldwide. These are consumed in diverse ways, including raw in salads, as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, processed into ketchup or tomato soup and unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. Tomato juice is sold as a drink, and is used in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary. Tomatoes are acidic, making them especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce or paste. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often in the sun, and sold either in bags or in jars with oil. Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines. They are a key ingredient in pizza, and are commonly used in pasta sauces.

While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable. The most widely grown commercial tomatoes tend to be in the 5-6 centimeters diameter range. Most of the vegetable growers produce red tomato, but other varieties of tomato like orange, pink, purple, green, black, or white tomato are also available. Tomato is rich in lycopene, which may have beneficial health effects.

Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart, among other organs. They contain the carotene lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. In some studies, lycopene, especially in cooked tomatoes, has been found to help prevent the ovarian cancer, especially in premenopausal women, digestive tract cancers (mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum), cardiovascular disease, asthma and chronic lung disease and prostate cancer (Leo Galland-2011). But other research contradicts this claim and claim that tomatoes might be nutritious and tasty, but don’t count on them to prevent prostate cancer (Science Daily -May 17, 2007). Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays (BBC News- 28, April, 2008).

Global Tomato Production

In 2010, world produces around 141,401 million tons of tomatoes (Franco is-2010) out of which China has emerged as the world’s largest tomato producer, with global output share of 28.74 percent. United States and India occupies 2nd and 3rd places with global shares of 8.86 percent and 8.22 percent respectively. The top ten countries contribute 69.30 percent of the total tomato production in the world. Indian position in this regard is 3rd with a global share of 8.22 percent.

Production of Tomato in India

In 2010, India is a 3rd tomato producing country in the world, accounting for 8.22 percent of total world’s production. Tomato production is extremely important to farmers in India as an important source of income due to its high productivity and relatively low cost. Moderate temperatures in India allow growers to produce tomato widely in open fields. Also, tomato production is important for export earnings. In 2010, the export earnings from tomato were 11,480.55 lakh.. The top ten States in India contribute 82.30 percent of the total tomato production in the country. Andhra Pradesh is at number one position accounting for 13.29 percent of the tomato production in the country. Karnataka and Orissa occupy 2nd and 3rd places with shares of 12.71 percent and 11.22 percent respectively.

Tomatoes are so common in today human diet that a meal without a tomato is supposed to be incomplete not only in India but in any part of the world. These are grown both in home gardens and commercially, are one of the world’s most popular vegetable crops. It is an alternative cash crop for small farmers and a potential source of rural employment (Abdullah et al, 2009). Tomato growing being a labour intensive commodity can substantially increase employment opportunities for the growing labour force in the country. India is gifted with a wide range of agro-climatic conditions which enable the production of tomato throughout the year in one or other part of the country and can maintain a continuous supply of fresh tomato in the market even in the off seasons. These off season tomatoes are in great demand in home as well as in the foreign markets and give a remunerative prices to the tomato growers. In this way more research is needed in this area to enhance the production and productivity of tomatoes in India.

Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost State of the Indian union consists of three divisions -Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh. It has two capitals- Jammu, the winter capital and Srinagar, the summer capital. It contributes less than 1 per cent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Jammu and Kashmir State is predominantly an agrarian economy with about 80 percent of its population engaged in agriculture and allied sectors. These sectors contribute around 27 percent to the State’s Domestic Product. Jammu and Kashmir is known for its mono-cropped and rain-fed economy with 40 percent area in the Jammu division and 60 percent in Kashmir. The agro-climatic diversity of the State varying from sub-tropical in Jammu, temperate in Kashmir and cold arid in Ladakh, makes it ideal for varied cultivation.

The diversity in physiographic features, agro-climatic variations at macro and micro level, existence of cold arid, temperate, inter-mediate and sub-tropical zones within a small geographical area of 2.22 lakh square kilometers, speaks volumes about the vast agricultural potential in the State. Over the years, the agriculturists and farmers in J&K have adopted several area specific cultivation practices to meet the requirement of their staple food crops like Rice, maize and wheat. But now the farmers are diversifying to cash crops such as flowers and vegetables. As far as the tomato production is concern the state is producing nearly 1 percent of the tomatoes in the country. Within the State, Jammu division itself is a home for large diversity in agro-climatic variations again underlines the vast agricultural potential in the division. Net irrigated area in Jammu region is just 24 percent and double and multiple cropping systems are followed on a larger scale in the intermediate and warmer plain sub-tropical areas. Vegetables are grown in specific areas of the region.

Doda district is a hilly district consisting of 8 blocks and having diversity in agro-climatic conditions. Very huge quantities of vegetables are grown in this district which satisfies the consumption requirement of other districts of the State. Main blocks producing vegetable in the district are Assar, some parts of Marmat, Bhaderwah and soma parts of Gandoh. Tomatoes are mainly producing in lower areas along with the sides of Batote-Doda road such as Ramgarh, Assar, Jathi, Malhori, Khellani etc. To raise the production of tomato more and more stress should be laid on the awareness regarding new varieties of tomato seeds and its cultivation process.