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India – Tomato

India is one of the largest producers of tomatoes globally. Despite this, in India’s eastern region of Jharkhand, farmers face several limitations when it comes to increasing their yield and consequently, their income. One of their biggest challenges is limited access to crop protection products and fertilizers. So Better Life Farming launched an agri-entrepreneur concept where farmers open local shops to facilitate the sale of these agricultural inputs in remote rural areas, and subsequently serve as aggregators for the local produce as well. It’s a win-win situation - Improving access to inputs and encouraging smallholder entrepreneurship.

Unripe tomatoes on the vine in India
Unripe tomatoes on the vine in India

Smallholder Farming in India

Tomato cultivation needs warm weather and a minimum of 8 hours of sunshine per day. Jharkhand is one of the warmest regions in India with an average sunshine of 6-10 hours per day. Ideal conditions for healthy crops, one would think. But the reality of the local farmers is somewhat different. Tomato has the highest area coverage of all vegetables grown in the state but the yield average is comparatively low.

With 9-10 tons of yield per acre, tomato farmers in Jharkhand only achieve a third of the average yield for tomatoes (30-35 tons per acre). Smallholders are ill-equipped to prevent yield losses due to insect and disease attacks, and post-harvest challenges. These farmers are also struggling with an inefficient and fragmented supply chain. This is where Better Life Farming is supporting the farmers with know-how and expertise.

“As these farmers have a very limited amount of land, no major company has shown interest in working with them. To date, no one has invested in training or setting up a distribution network since working with a lot of smallholders instead of one large agricultural business requires more effort and resources. As a result, there are many valuable practices that these farmers have never heard about, such as mulching, good fertilizers, and proper irrigation…we teamed up with a fertilizer company, an irrigation partner, and off-takers to help the farmers increase yield, quality, and prices”,  says Harmanpreet Singh, Bayer’s Smallholder Farming Manager for India.

Quick Facts & Latest Results:

  • Launched in June 2017
  • 510 tomato farmers
  • 100% increase in yield
  • Local partners for targeted solutions: Yara, Big Basket and DeHaat
  • Focus: Market access, latest agricultural know-how and technology

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