Satara duo’s tomato diary provides farmers a step-by-step guide to grow quality produce

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Ajit Korde and Ganesh Nazirkar, both 35, have been friends since Class XI. But that is not the only thing that is common between the duo with roots in Satara. Both of them are passionate vegetable growers and after putting together their expertise gained by their graduation in agricultural sciences along with practical experience, they have come out with a unique tomato grower’s diary (Tomato Nondhbahi in Marathi), which is a step-by-step guide for growers of the fruit, which is considered as a vegetable by many.
The need for this diary, Korde said, was felt when in 2020-21, he had to interact with agricultural scientists from the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Horticulture Research about the attack of Tomato Mosaic Virus on a crop. At that time, tomato growers across the country were stumped by the virus, which led to early fruit fall and destruction of their crop. “Scientists asked me about the inputs which I had adopted from day 1 of the crop. Ever since I started farming, it has been my habit to maintain a log of my on-field activities and thus, I was able to reproduce the list of chemicals and sprays I had used on my crops,” he said. Korde, who has been growing vegetables and sugarcane over 70 acres of his holding in the village of Mirewadi in Phaltan taluka of Satara over the last several years, is known for his progressive agricultural practices, which has allowed him to harvest quality produce in record quantity. Instead of dealing with local markets, Korde sells his produce directly at the Vashi market of Navi Mumbai.
Tomato, Korde said, as a crop is heavily dependent on correct usage of inputs. Throughout the 6-month life cycle of the crop, farmers need to use more than 100 molecules in the form of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, growth regulators etc. “However, most of us do not keep a track of what is being used, leave alone the investment we are putting in the crop. Most growers go by the advice given by the input shop owner without realising whether it is helping them or not,” he said.
The tomato dairy, both Korde and Nazirkar said, addresses this problem by giving farmers a ready reckoner of the best practices used in tomato cultivation. Such best practices are easily available for horticulture crops like grapes and pomegranates but this would be the first time that farmers themselves have come out with a step-by-step guide for tomato growers, they said.
Nazirkar, who hails from the village of Gokhali, said the diary fulfills a few more important needs. “Farmers do not keep track of investment and their Returns on Investments (ROIs); our publication allows farmers to note these down in a systematic format. At the end of the season if they are in loss, it would given them an idea on whether to continue with the same crop or not,” said Nazirkar.
Another important function which the diary does is to personalise and customise their practices as per the local needs. “Agriculture has numerous variables and no two fields can come up with similar produces even if everything remains the same. So, this diary will allow farmers to keep a track of inputs and the way they behaved on their fields. Our hope is that tomato growers would be able to evolve the best practices for their fields with this diary,” he said.
The first edition of the diary was launched last June and in a matter of time, more than 5,000 copies were sold. The second edition was launched this June and according to Nazirkar and Korde, the “demand from farmers is good”.

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