As prices are plummeting, Kerala’s pineapple farmers are not having a good time. The second wave of Covid has battered many upcountry markets. Although prices rose about a month ago, now farmgate prices of all varieties have dropped to ₹19 per kg after going above ₹40. According to growers, the closing down of major upcountry markets and restrictions have hit the trade in a big way.
Dwindling sales have forced many growers to leave even the popular GI-tagged Vazhakkulam pineapples in the field. Currently, there are no takers in the market as the curbs have hindered customer movement, Jaison Jose, a farmer-cum-trader in Vazhakkulam, home to Asia’s largest pineapple market, told BusinessLine.
Baby John, president, Pineapple Growers Association Keralam, put the loss at ₹10 mln from the festival season alone due to restrictions on movements. Arrivals have now dropped to an average 80 loads per day against the peak 150-200 loads. This is the second consecutive year that the sector is losing the Ramadan demand.
Besides, the labor shortage is acute as a majority of the migrant workers have left for their homes with the Covid surge gripping the country. Hardly 30 per cent of workers is available. This has forced growers to hire these workers for their daily requirements.
The current situation has caused a lot of problems for the growing community, especially when they are faced with fund shortage on account of a subdued demand, besides cancellation of major functions and ceremonies, impacting pineapple consumption.
Many rubber plantations have switched to pineapple farms
Still, a group of farmers from Thirumittakode have switched to pineapple farming after facing loss in rubber farming. According to mathrubhumi.com¸ many farmers have started experimenting with other crops due to loss from rubber plantation.
Most of the rubber plantations in the region have been switched to pineapple farms now. The farmers find it more profitable as 9000 pineapple saplings can be planted on one acre land. The pineapples harvested from the farms in Thirumittakode are sent to local markets and other states. The Krishi Bhavan in the area also support the farmers by offering them advices and supplying seeds.
[ ₹100 = €1.10 ]