MARKET OUTLET CHOICE DECISION OF THE TOMATO GROWERS IN THE NAGAON DISTRICT OF ASSAM

Tinku Moni Borah
Research Scholar, Department of Economics, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India

Abstract
Selection of an appropriate market outlay is an important determinant of profit margin for any kind of crop growers.  The efforts sacrificed by the farmers during the entire cultivation period bring fruitful return only when he could sale the produce in an appropriate market. However, selection of an appropriate market is not an easy task and there are various constraints limiting households’ appropriate choice decision. In this regard, in the present study, an attempt has been made to identify the factors affecting outlay choice decision of the tomato growers in the Nagaon district of Assam.  The study is based on primary data and Multinomial Logit model is applied for analysing the data. The result indicates that outlay choice decision may be improved and indirectly profit margin of the tomato growers through some policy measures in the line of providing market information, providing the required assistance in adequate value addition of the produce, improving the transportation and communication system for marketing the produce.

Key words: Market Outlay, Multinomial Logit, Nagaon district

1. Introduction
Horticulture constitutes an important segment of Assam Agriculture economy contributing about one-fifth share of the Agriculture and allied sectors (Economic Survey, Government of Assam). The growing demand for processed fruits and vegetables and booming floriculture market is expected to accelerate the growth of this sector. The major horticultural crops categories available in the state are fruits (including traditional fruits), vegetables, spices, tuber crops, flowers, plantation crops, aromatic plants, nut crops and medicinal plants (The Department of Agriculture, Government of Assam). Among this classification vegetables constitute the largest are share with 45% of the total area under horticultural crops and 57% of the total horticultural production (Ministry of Agriculture, GoI, 2014). Tomato is an important constituent of this vegetable category and the productivity of the crop in the state is also above the national average. This crop constitutes 6% of the total area under vegetables and more than 8% of the total vegetable production (Government of Assam, 2014).

In spite of having this prospect and potential, this crop is not doing well in post harvest aspect.  Tomato is subjected to high post harvest losses with the frequent price fluctuations in the state. In a study by Deka (2005) reported highest post harvest losses of tomato (25% of total production) in his study of six major horticultural crops with a maximum monetary loss of Rs. 128.34 crore. This crop is also subject to the highest price fluctuation. As per the monthly price series of tomato during july, 2013 to June, 2014, the price ranges from 8.81/kg (May, 2014) to 27.39/kg (Agricultural Marketing Information Network, AGMARKNET, July 2013). All this facts indicate the poor status of the post harvest system of the state to deal with this perishable high value horticultural crops.

The post harvest system encompasses a sequence of activities and operations that can be divided in to two groups- technical activities and economic activities (Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, FAO). The technical part consists of harvesting, field drying, threshing, cleaning, additional drying, storage and processing. On the other hand, the economic activities include transportation, marketing, quality control, nutrition, extension, information and communication, administration and management.

Since tomato is often cited as the most controversial crops as growers often claim to receive a comparatively low price. Therefore we are concentrating in this specific paper on marketing aspect of the post harvest system of the crop tomato. A few studies have been found analysing the marketing channels of this referred crop category identifying the flow and constraints in marketing of the produce. But they have failed to consider an in depth understanding of the factors influencing farmer’s outlay choice decision. The choice to choose a particular outlay brings its associated obstacles and the margins for the farmers. 


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