To tackle a sudden spike or fall in the prices of tomatoes, the Consumer Affairs Ministry will launch on June 20 a grand challenge, inviting innovative ideas for improving the production, processing and storage of the commodity.
"We will launch the Tomato Grand Challenge this week. We will invite innovative ideas, create prototypes, and then scale up as we did in the case of Onion," Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told PTI.
The Grand Challenge aims to bring innovative, modular, and cost-effective solutions to develop "technologies for pre-production; primary processing, post-harvest, storage and valorisation of tomato" at the farm, rural and urban levels, he said.
The purpose is to come out with a comprehensive strategic solution for reducing the loss while imparting value addition.
"We have done in onion in the last one year. We received 600-odd ideas for Onion, out of which 13 ideas are now mentored under the guidance of experts," Kumar said.
In the case of tomato, sudden spike or fall in prices can be tackled if there is good storage and processing. Like the buffer, there should be a stabilised mechanism. For this, innovation at the seed level, primary storage, post-harvest and crop information is necessary, Singh said.
The ideas will be invited for four verticals. First is developing and popularising improved tomato varieties, production technology or practices suiting the rainy season, dry and humid heat weather conditions, processing, enhanced fruit shelf life, and mechanised harvesting.
Second is designing and disseminating information systems pertaining to crop planning, market intelligence for farmers, interface platforms for farmers/nurseries/ traders/customer interface, production practices, etc.
Third is innovative post-harvest treatments and packaging solutions to minimise post-harvest losses during harvesting, handling, and transportation.
Fourth is innovative storage technologies and solutions for longer preservation and so on to reduce panic selling due to perishability.