Case Studies

Migrating To Saaho Variety Of Tomatoes To Boost WayCool Farmers’ Income & Reduce Food Loss

Authored By : : Goyal Infotech

Tomato is one of the most widely cultivated crops in India. Grown in any season, tomato is a highly profitable crop if cultivated properly. It requires a different set of conditions at every stage of growth, and cannot withstand high humidity and heavy rainfall.

Tomato is one of the top 4 commodities sourced by WayCool based on volume and revenue. When heavy rains affected the supply from the leading tomato belts like Kolar, WayCool had identified Coimbatore as the alternate source, to fulfill demand from large consumer markets like Bangalore and Chennai. The goal was to cultivate and supply the produce to these larger markets. However, the variety grown in Coimbatore (Shivam) and the transporting distance (400-500 kms) led to a 30%-40% produce loss, and hence poor market realization for the farmers.

[visual/box – According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), around 40%-45% of the food produced in India is lost, most of which occurs between the farmgate and the retailer]

A study was conducted to understand how this model improved farmer livelihood, especially for crops such as sweetcorn and baby corn grown in Attur, Salem in Tamil Nadu and Channapatna in Karnataka.

WayCool’s objective here is to boost the profitability for farmers growing tomatoes in the region by helping them get better yield and higher selling price leading to increased revenue. Thus, WayCool conducted a study to address this problem – how to minimize the food loss and maximize profits and income for tomato farmers in and around Coimbatore.

Box:

WayCool sources approximately 15 tonnes of tomato per day from over 2,600 farmers growing tomatoes in our network.

98% of the volume is directly sourced from Outgrow farmers through our collection centres.

Tomatoes are sourced mainly from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, and Amruthi, Manikyanahalli, Hoskote in Karnataka.

WayCool Intervention

Based on the feedback from the trade customers, sourcing experts at WayCool recommended a pilot project to sow the Saaho variety over Shivam tomatoes for one season in Coimbatore.

The shelf life of the Saaho tomato is around 7-10 days. The better “keep life quality” of these tomatoes helped the produce last longer with minimum damage, and also prevented softness and quick ripening. Temperature and the presence of a naturally occurring hormone called ethylene controls the ripening process in tomatoes. High temperatures can halt the pigments responsible for quick ripening of tomatoes. In addition, regulation of ethylene is vital for the improvement of its shelf-life.

Saaho, which is more suitable for long distance transportation, offered Coimbatore tomato farmers the chance to supply to larger organized modern trade customers in larger markets for a premium price. This led to an improvement in the farmers’ net income and profits.

Challenge

WayCool found it necessary to explore Coimbatore as an alternative source to produce tomatoes after supply from the traditional tomato-growing belts in Karnataka and the rest of Tamil Nadu was affected due to heavy rains and irregular weather patterns. This decision came with a few setbacks.

  • – The most commonly grown tomatoes by farmers in Coimbatore is the Shivam variety, which is largely supplied to nearby regions in Kerala for around INR 30 per kg. However, because of the poor keeping quality or shelf life, these tomatoes find few takers among modern traders (e-commerce and quick-commerce) in Bangalore and Chennai. [visual/box – 37% of WayCool’s revenue through tomato comes from modern trader customers]
  • – The shelf life of the Shivam variety tomatoes is just 2-3 days at room temperature. Nearly 30%-40% of tomatoes were damaged due to the transportation of produce across 400-500 kms. This meant that this variety could only be used by HoReCa businesses for immediate consumption.
  • – Moreover, this led to an increase in transportation cost as specialized vehicles were required to preserve the shelf life of the Shivam tomatoes.

Overall, the economic status of farmers, who chose to integrate with WayCool and identified food processing buyers, has improved resulting in an increase in their profits. During the tenure of the study in these regions, Sweetcorn farmers recorded an average yield of 8 tonnes per acre while baby corn’s average yield was 4 tonnes per acre.

Impact

Based on the feedback from the trade customers, sourcing experts at WayCool recommended a pilot project to sow the Saaho variety over Shivam tomatoes for one season in Coimbatore.

The pilot initiative to cultivate the Saaho variety of tomatoes in place of the Shivam in Coimbatore resulted in a significant improvement in farmers’ income and profit. It was found that the Saaho variety gives a better yield – around 29% higher – than Shivam. Farmers were also able to realize a 22% higher selling price with the former that led to a nearly 53% higher gross revenue.

Even though the cost of cultivation is higher by 38% in Saaho compared to Shivam, farmers cultivating the Saaho variety managed to receive 86% higher net profit for the season.

Saaho tomatoes also have a better keeping quality which prevents heavy damage and quick ripening of the produce. This also meant that there was little need for specialized vehicles to transport the produce, thus bringing down the transportation charges. As a result, the Saaho tomatoes were fit for selling to modern traders and large urban markets in Chennai and Bangalore.

In addition, WayCool managed to reduce its volume loss at its sourcing point with the Saaho tomatoes to 5%-10% as compared to 30%-40% with Shivam.