Rising prices of pineapple have brought the hopes of stable returns for the farming community this harvest season after two consecutive years of distress.
“Since January, we are getting better prices with farm gate price of GI-tagged Vazhakulam pineapple special grade fetching ₹29 per kg and the normal green variety ₹26. Ripe fruits command ₹30. Retail prices have also doubled from the farm gate level,” Baby John, president, Pineapple Growers Association Keralam, told BusinessLine.
He attributed the northward price movement to a 15 per cent drop in production from last year’s figure of 400,000 tonnes. Many small and medium farmers have stayed away from pineapple cultivation after suffering losses due to floods in the last two years.
The year 2018 was distressing for the sector because of floods, glut in the market and extreme climatic conditions. Climate change had created a dull market that led to the decline in prices, dragging wholesale rates to ₹10 a kg.
However, the current surge in prices is evident in the movement of the fruit to Delhi and other upcountry markets where the average truckload rose to 300 tonnes a day. Delhi is a good market for special grade pineapple, while Maharashtra is the largest market for other grades, John said.
However, exports have not yet picked up and shipments to overseas markets were negligible at 0.5 per cent of the total production. To garner a major share in the export market, John suggested the cultivation of MD2 varieties, which has a longer shelf life and is suitable for processing. The State government should encourage the cultivation of this variety with a buyback arrangement with farmers, he said, adding that Niti Aayog has recently made enquiries on the prospects of cultivating MD2 varieties.
Agriculture expert PP Joy said supplemental irrigation in the absence of adequate summer showers during this dry spell would be beneficial to the crop. The Vazhakulam pineapple market should be modernised to avoid handling losses that stand at almost 20 per cent, he added.
[ ₹100 = € 1.30 ]