How Andhra Pradesh took to the fad of ‘Modi Tomatoes’

This election season in India, merchandise off all colours and forms flooded the market. From sarees featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and even the recently held Balakot airstrikes, to T-shirts and masks, everything clicked with consumers. Adding to this was Modi mania which was at its peak. 
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a name for himself in the fashion industry with his Bandhgalas or Modi jackets, another product has now joined the saffron bandwagon. This is a vegetable (scientifically, a fruit) without which most of the Indian food is incomplete. All the blitz surrounding Modi’s popularity has gone to the next level with “Modi Tomatoes” making a splash in the market.
The novel idea to cultivate these tomatoes in Andhra Pradesh was taken up by a US-returned software engineer and agro producer, Janardhan Chowdary who wanted to venture into farming. He, along with another enterprising farmer, R. Siva Kumar Reddy, developed these tomatoes at Madanapalle in Chittoor district. Siva chose to cultivate the tomatoes in half-acre area of his five-acre farm land. These Modi tomatoes were first presented to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during his visit to the state during the election campaign recently. 
The heart-shape tomatoes have the letters MODI embossed on them and are grown in a mould. On one side is Modi’s name while the other side has the India map on it. These tomatoes were first presented to Modi when he visited Varanasi and were sold out within no time. At Siva’s farm, JP Agro executives helped him by bringing 25,000 moulds and invested Rs. 50,000 on labour. The tomatoes are encased at its fruiting stage and it takes three weeks for them to ripen.  
It was a win-win situation for both Siva and JP Agro Producers as the company paid 25% more price than the market price. The market price for Modi tomatoes was Rs. 800 for 25 kg crate. But, Siva was paid Rs. 1050 by the company, which made it a profitable investment. 
These tomatoes have gained popularity after a tweet on this post went viral and made it to the vernacular media. Ever since, the Modi tomatoes have been selling like hot cakes at 25% premium rate. They are also being exported to other countries. Despite Andhra Pradesh being excluded from the ‘Modi wave’ politically, Siva has been successful in increasing his sales, attributing it to the political fad among local markets.
It is learnt that JP Agro Producers is also experimenting with crescent-shaped cucumbers with ‘Eid Mubarak’ embossed on it, given that the holy month of Ramadan has already begun. To add some quirk to their tomatoes and up the ante, the company is also working on getting ‘I’ and ‘U’ embossed on heart-shaped tomatoes. 
Within no time, you may soon be one of the consumers of these tomatoes once many more farmers catch up with the trend! 

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