In the seventies, Nandannagar in the West Tripura district was a hotspot for pineapple cultivation. Today, all but one of the orchards there are closed down. According to growers, business is at an all-time low and the fruit is selling at less than half of market rate.
Grower Pramode Chandra Deb: “This entire place used to be a hotspot for pineapple cultivation once upon a time. Today we are the only ones who retained the plantations. Cost of cultivation has gone up, plus the Indo-Bangla border is fenced, cutting off sales to the neighbouring country. The government doesn’t procure anything either.”
His account, however, contradicts the government’s version. Tripura Horticulture Assistant Director Dipak Baidya earlier told indianexpress.com that 130 tons of pineapples have already been exported from the state this year. The figures suggest a rise from 2018 which saw a sluggish export quantity (20 tons of fruit were exported to Dubai and Doha). This year’s export list includes Bangladesh too.
According to records of the horticulture department, Tripura grows 128,000 tons of pineapples every year across 8,800-hectare orchards in different districts including Sonamura in Sepahijala district, Kamalpur in North Tripura and Ambassa in Dhalai district. While some of the orchards are run by the government, most of them are privately-owned. Over 4,000 pineapple growers are directly connected to the cultivation of the fruit.