Khargone: After spicing up taste buds with its red and hot flavour, Khargone chillies are now making way for red tangy and juicy tomatoes as five farmers from Barud village of the district entered a contract for growing tomatoes with Frutex Industries, which is set to start food processing units in the district.

Bhoomi pujan for the unit, which will be spread over two acres of land in Indus Mega Food Park in Nimrani, was performed on Sunday. Guava, papaya and mango pulp will also be made besides chilli paste.

As reported earlier, Nimari red chillies give major competition to chillies grown in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh and red chillies of Bihar. The chilli mandi in Bediya village of Khargone district is considered as Asia’s second biggest chilli mandi after Guntur. As per available statistics, 60,000 metric tonnes of Nimari red chilli is grown on 23,000 hectares, making it the prime chilli farming district of the state.

However, farmers here are facing difficulties as 70 per cent of crops was attacked by virus and heavy rain. This forced them to switch to other crop. Farmers from Barud village who entered into farming contract with the company said before starting its plant, the company started contract farming in 1-acre land each of five farmers in Barud.

Rajesh Kumrawat said company provided saplings that bore fruits in 70 days. “For this, we were an amount of Rs 5,000 in four installments. Apart from this, as per the contract, Rs 4 per kilogram will be provided as benefit amount.

Vicky Kumravat, another farmer from Barud engaged in contract farming, said they use bamboo sticks to support tomato climber plants. This increases farming cost but bamboo is not required in Japanese variety of tomatoes. Due to this, it is beneficial for farmers.

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