‘Tomato Scientist’ Ovung’s Produce Making Inroads Into Local Markets - Eastern Mirror
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‘Tomato scientist’ Ovung’s produce making inroads into local markets

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By Abenthung Kikon Updated: Apr 14, 2024 1:02 am
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Thungdemo Ovung sampling tomato fruits on his farm in Wokha.

WOKHA — Nicknamed ‘Tomato scientist’ by the denizens of Wokha town, bio-entrepreneur Thungdemo Ovung’s organic tomatoes are making inroads into local markets under the brand Organic Republic Wokha.

Proprietor of BioDynamics Wokha, Ovung, who holds Master of Science degrees in Industrial Biotechnology, Crop Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship, did intensive research on tomato cultivation for more than a decade before setting up two small tomato farms in Wokha district in 2016.

His efforts and patience bore fruit and by 2019, he had started producing tomatoes on a larger scale. However, he went through a rough patch during 2020–21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking about his journey to becoming a tomato farmer, he said his passion for food safety and healthy food research sparked his interest. Though tomatoes are in abundance on the market, consumers do not have much choice when it comes to buying quality produce.

Maintaining that the tomatoes available on the market are mostly non-organic with inferior quality and taste, Ovung said it takes time to educate consumers to choose organic tomatoes over imported non-organic ones, which come at a cheaper price.

Admitting that pricing organic tomatoes is also a major challenge, he said he would like to maintain a uniform price for his produce throughout the year.

Over the years, he has been running around various research labs and centres to tackle challenges in tomato growing, including soil, germs, insects and diseases.

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Tomato fruits at Thungdemo Ovung’s farm in Wokha.

When asked if he received any financial assistance from the government as a tomato researcher and farmer, he said that apart from getting subsidies for the purchase of the greenhouse and assistance from ICAR Medziphema, Krishi Vigyan Kendra Wokha and Guwahati for using lab and testing facilities, he made all the investments.

Ovung expressed satisfaction over the consistent demand for his tomatoes, noting that customers who purchased his produce return for more.

He disclosed that he cultivates three tomato varieties during the spring season and five varieties during the summer. His focus is to produce tomatoes throughout the year.

On harvest yield, he said that a tomato plant can produce up to 15 kg of tomato fruit, depending on the health of the plant.

For upcoming entrepreneurs, Ovung emphasised that good strategy, action, trial and error, and thorough research are the keys to success. He advised the youth not only to pursue government jobs but also to find ways to help themselves and their communities.

“We all are consumers and farmers are the best examples of those who help themselves and the people; we all need to consume healthy food through organic farming,” he added.

He opined that Nagaland offers ample opportunities in farming but people need to do away with the old methods of farming and adopt scientific methods to increase productivity and quality.

He mentioned that currently, Organic Republic Wokha tomatoes are sold in Wokha, Kohima, and Dimapur through online orders from the Instagram page BioDynamics and he is optimistic that soon his tomatoes will hit the shelves of some stores with proper packaging.

Ovung is also working on his food processing unit to find a way to assist consumers in obtaining his produce during the off-season. Besides research and farming activities, he also provides consulting services to enthusiasts and dedicated farmers.

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Profile and achievements

•             Co-founder of Nagaland Organic Konnect (NOK) and DiagMole Ltd. in Nottingham, UK.

•             Proprietor of BioDynamics, which focuses on development of high-tech organic farming for a sustainable, consistent, and environmentally friendly food production system.

•             Received the ‘Most Innovative Idea Award’ at the 2013 Global Graduate Entrepreneurs’ Festival in Manchester, UK.

•             Among the winners of the UK Trade and Investment Global SIRIUS Programme, London, 2015; the China UK Entrepreneur Challenge, 2014; and the NBG Customer Discovery Winners: Biocity Nottingham, UK, 2014.

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By Abenthung Kikon Updated: Apr 14, 2024 1:02:44 am
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