Opportunities for Indo - Dutch Collaboration on food loss and waste in tomato in Madhya Pradesh
The Embassy of the Netherlands in India just concluded an international tomato value chain conclave along with Government of Madhya Pradesh and Solidaridad, a NGO from the Netherlands based in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Around 100 farmers from different regions of the state, officials of horticulture department and stakeholder in the tomato value chain in the state attended the event. The occasion of the conclave was to release a baseline study on post-harvest losses in the tomato value chain and to discuss follow-up action.
This baseline study by Solidaridad Regional Expertise Centre in Bhopal (with a large presence in the region and working on several projects with small holder farmers in Madhya Pradesh) was commissioned by the Embassy.
India - Netherlands Initiative on Food Loss and Waste
The idea behind the study was to find regions in India where Netherlands based organisations can work with their Indian counterparts to address the challenges of Food Loss and Waste, an important area of co-operation between India and the Netherlands. The Netherlands is committed to collaborate with countries on Food Loss and Waste, which is vital to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 (Global Food losses). Netherlands has set-up champions12.3, a coalition of executives from governments, businesses, international organizations, research institutions, farmer groups and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3 by 2030.
The baseline study was an outcome of INTAFLOW, a project which Wageningen University initiated as a member of Champion12.3 to bring together other organisations of the coalition having presence in India and Indian stakeholders from government agencies, private sector and Civil Society Organisations to discuss creating a platform on Food Loss and Waste.
Content of the study
The objective of the baseline study was to map the tomato value chain and especially, to identify root causes of post-harvest losses, technical, institutional and policy level issues and gaps in the selected potential clusters of the State of Madhya Pradesh, India, and to make recommendations.
The baseline study did the following:
- Map the tomato value chain, identify key players and issues and gaps with in the chain specifically related of post-harvest losses and in-efficiency.
- Determine relations between value chain players and their role in the tomato value chain (producer, traders, input dealers, aggregators, processors, logistics service providers, financial institutions, government departments, research institutes etc.).
- Identify existing infrastructure and logistics facilitates and related gaps in context of tomatoes.
- Analyse the existing production system, quality, seasonality and related challenges as well as potential scope for improvement.
- Assess the existing engagement of public and private sector and available support mechanism.
- Identification of key supply chain barriers in post-harvest losses as well quantification of (percentage) losses at different levels of the chain.
- Documented recommendations and relevant best practices.
Losses are mostly due to unavailability of reliable scientific crop advisory and quality inputs to farmers, low awareness of farmers on pre and post – harvest practices, unavailability of skilled manual labour, little diversification in the variety of tomato grown as most of it is grown from fresh consumption and lack of storage facility at the field level. The study mapped the periods when there is abundance in the market leading to drop in prices of the crop. This lead to reduction in cultivated area which again gives rise to scarcity thus increasing prices.
Flow of discussion in the conclave
The launching of the report at the Conclave was done in the presence of senior government officials of Madhya Pradesh, Vice Chancellor of Agriculture University , the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in India, Mr. Marten van den Berg and Agriculture Counsellor Mr. Michiel van Erkel, and the Solidaridad team in Bhopal. Three sessions were held where in the first session, the findings of the study were presented and several progressive farmers shared their experiences on tomato cultivation in Madhya Pradesh which were inline with the findings of the study.
The second session was on the topic of India – Netherlands co-operation to sustainably increase the area under tomato cultivation. The session had speakers from Rijk Zwaan, East West Seed, Bayer Crop Science and Jain Irrigation. Mr. Sanjay Narang of Bayer Crop Science spoke about the company’s mission to reduce pre and post – harvest losses and development of varieties like Ansal with Wageningen University that will increase shelf life of tomato for transporting them over a larger distance. Mr. SN Patil of Jain Irrigation spoke of the role of micro – irrigation in tomato cultivation and the benefits of reducing water consumption and managing agri-input costs by efficient use of water soluble fertilizer. Mr. Patil shared with the audience the benefit of Indo – Dutch Centers of Excellence for Vegetable in India helping farmers understand the role of different technologies and in transfer of knowledge from the Netherlands to the farmers directly. Mr. Venugopal Reddy of Rijk Zwaan mentioned how farmers in the state are adopting protected cultivation to diversify tomato production and cater to big cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Mr. Babashaeb Shinde of East West seed showed their widespread presence in India and emphasized their primary focus on small holder farmers growing vegetables.
The last session on “Where is the Market?” had speakers from food processing companies, food processing equipment companies and APEDA, the Indian government agency that promotes agriculture export. Mr. Shashank Bhadora of FruitX and Mr. Koichi Fukawa of Kagome India Private Limited spoke about their existing operation in Madhya Pradesh for tomato processing, challenges the two companies are facing in expanding their operations in the state like unavailability of (the right) tomato year round. Mr. Fukawa added tomato farmers can benefit by growing processing varieties which have a shorter growing period and provides assurance of buyback of their produce. Ms. Bhavana Vishwanath, representing Serlo F.A. and Kiremko B.V. both of which are food processing equipment companies, suggested that entrepreneurs can set-up factories which can process other commodities also grown in the region and thus do not have to depend on year round supply of tomato. Mr. Ashok Kumar presented how APEDA can facilitate export of tomato from Madhya Pradesh which is already happening for example from Maharashtra.
The concluding session listed different suggestions provided in all the sessions, such as reduction of cost of production and increase production, establishing a center of excellence for tomato, promoting commodity based farmer producer organisations and forming a task force for liaising between different actors in the chain. The next step will be to develop a platform where India and Netherlands based organisations with the support of Department of Horticulture in Madhya Pradesh can devise projects that will showcase benefits of public private partnership to address Food Loss and Waste.