Indian Institute of Horticultural Research develops 2 new tomato hybrids for the processing industry
Sep. 30, 2019
The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research has developed two tomato hybrids, exclusively meant for the processing industry. These hybrids – Arka Vishesh and Arka Apeksha – are disease-resistant and are expected to not only boost farmers’ incomes through higher yields but are also aimed at reducing processing costs because of higher total soluble solids (TSS) and lycopene content.
“It is for the first time tomato hybrids have been developed for the processing industry,” said AT Sadashiva, who led a team of scientists at IIHR to work on these hybrids over a five-year period.
Higher yield potential
Farmers can be assured of a minimum 25 per cent increase in yields at 50 tonnes per hectare, while the potential exists to harvest up to 100 tonnes per hectare under precision agriculture using drip irrigation, Sadashiva said. Existing hybrids give a minimum yield of 40 tonnes per hectare.
“Higher yields would reduce the cost of cultivation to the farmers. Also, the new hybrids are resistant to disease such as tomato leaf curl virus, bacterial wilt and early blight, which helps farmers in reducing the number of sprays on the crop,” he added.
The total soluble solids (TSS) in the new IIHR tomato hybrids is at least 10 per cent higher. Also, the lycopene content, the pigment that lends colour to tomatoes, is about 25-30 per cent more than the existing hybrids. “The industry prefers higher TSS as it reduces their energy consumption,” he said.
Developed from existing lines, these varieties are also suitable for mechanised harvesting, said HS Oberoi, Head - Division of Post Harvest Technology and Engineering, IIHR. “We are hoping to release the new hybrids for commercial cultivation by December,” Oberoi said.
Some farmer producer companies such as Sahayadri FGC have planted the new IIHR hybrids on trial basis. IIHR is in talks with processors such as Bector Foods Specialities, Sun Sip and Jadli Foods among others to facilitate linkage with growers for promoting the new varieties.
India’s tomato production is estimated at 19.39 million tonnes in 2018-19, marginally lower than 19.759 mt produced in 2017-18. More than 90 per cent of the tomatoes produced in the country are consumed fresh.
Tomato processors normally procure and process the vegetable during the peak season during January-March, when prices are low. The processed tomato, which is converted and stored in the form of paste is used as a base for products such as ketchup and sauces. About 7 kg of tomato is required to produce 1 kg of tomato paste.
As per industry sources, India requires about 1.2 lakh tonnes of tomato paste of which about 70,000 tonnes is manufactured locally and the rest imported, mainly from China.
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