PRAN-RFL Group has set a target of procuring 12,000 tonnes of tomato for processing tomato pulp to make sure fair price of farmers and foster agriculture-based rural economy in the region.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, Director (Marketing) of PRAN-RFL Group, said the tomatoes will be procured from 10,000 farmers in Rajshahi, Natore, Chapainawabganj, Pabna and Dinajpur districts.
“We have collected around 5,300 tonnes, so far, and have started aseptically processing tomato pulp in Barind Industrial Park (BIP) of the group in Rajshahi,” he said, adding, 7,000 tonnes of tomatoes were collected from 8,400 farmers in the previous year.
The number of contract farmers are increasing by 20 percent a year thanks to the efforts of Pran in providing them training and farming inputs and ensuring value of their product.
Kamal said the group has created scopes of generating jobs for around 5,000 people in BIP, established in 2017.
Set up on around 34 acres of land in Amanatpur area besides the Rajshahi-Chapainawabgonj highway under Godagari Upazila, the BIP is collecting various seasonal agro based products including mango, tomato, olive and guava from the local farmers directly and making pulp in the park.
Pulp is being produced in the plant following aseptic technology. This factory is completely environment-friendly as they produce organic fertilizer and energy from the wastages. There is an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) for liquid wastage.
He said aseptic indicates free from contamination by harmful bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms.
“Bangladesh used to import tomato pulp to produce sauces and ketchups here. Things have changed now and we plan to start exporting our produce this year,” Kamal clarified.
He added that the BIP has been set up to make sure that the farmers are able to sell their products at low transport cost without any broker.
BIP Deputy General Manager Sarowar Hossain said mango and tomato pulps are produced in their factory, adding they wait every year to procure naturally ripe tomato at the field. During the end of the season, farmers plucked ripe tomatoes from their fields.
Wholesale traders purchase those tomatoes from the farmers and sell those to them. This year they have started to purchase tomatoes from the farmers from January-19.
He said tomatoes are damaged in the land due to low price. But the situation has changed after establishing the factory. Tomato cultivation is now increasing day by day because farmers are getting fair prices.
Monirul Islam, a tomato farmer of Chowduar village, said he cultivated tomato on two-bigha of land. He has started plucking and selling tomatoes around 20 days back. Initially, he sold green tomatoes at Taka 1,500 per maund.
Subsequently, he sold tomatoes at Taka 1,200, Taka 800 and Taka 400 per maund respectively. Tomatoes can be plucked after every 14-day from the field.
Islam said demand for tomatoes in the market has fallen and the wholesale traders are now purchasing tomatoes for supplying those to the BIP. Otherwise, those tomatoes would have been discarded in the field just to rot or to use as fodder.