It is perhaps not known to many that Chintamani in the newly created Chikkaballapur district in Karnataka has some of the best agricultural produce of South India. Mangoes, bananas, peanuts, dairy products, bitter gourd, avarekai, sarsaparilla juice (nannari sharbat) and tomatoes are transported to the markets of nearby Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu as well as Delhi and West Bengal on a regular basis.
The Chintamani Tomato Market is one of the largest in Karnataka catering to small and marginal farmers from Chikkaballapur district. Chintamani is blessed with hot and dry weather conditions, adequate rainfall during the monsoon and well-drained clay-loam soil that is rich in organic matter and nutrients with good moisture retention capacity. Tomato is cultivated in a small area during kharif, moderate in rabi and large areas in the summer (May to August).
Farmers prefer to use organic methods of cultivation and do not deviate much from the age-old techniques of harrowing and crop rotation to improve soil fertility. As the soil is conducive for the cultivation of tomatoes, the farmers are able to grow different varieties like beefstack or beef tomato, plum tomato and cherry tomato.
In recent years, small and marginal farmers have greatly benefited from the award-winning, high-yielding hybrid tomato F1 hybrid Arka Rakshak of ICAR-IIHR (Indian Institute of Horticultural Research) which fetch a higher price in the market. The fruits of Arka Rakshak and Arka Samrat are deep red in colour, firm and round and suitable for processing and long-distance transportation with a shelf life of 15 to 20 days as against 10 to 12 days of other varieties. The average yield is estimated to be 19 kg per plant.
Tomato paste, ketchup, sauce, pickles, juice, puree, jams, rice masala pastes and others are the main processed products from raw tomatoes. Chintamani tomatoes are preferred by local processing units for its juiciness, colour and ideal sweetness-tanginess.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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