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‘Very sweet’ variety gives fresh hope to Pineapple farmers in Kerala

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 hectares under pineapple cultivation in Kerala.  File photo

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 hectares under pineapple cultivation in Kerala. File photo

Farmers are looking at the potential of a pineapple variety, which is yet to be named locally and touted as “very sweet”, suitable for mechanised processing and possibly with shelf life longer than the conventional Mauritius variety widely cultivated in the State.

What has drawn the attention of farmers to the new variety is the possibility of mechanised processing for value addition and export. The Mauritius variety cannot easily be processed. The loss from processing can be as high as 35% to 40%, said a pineapple researcher. But it has other features like being more hardy, making it easy to handle while being dispatched to markets in other parts of the country.

A veteran farmer in Muvattupuzha said that the fruit is larger and weighs around 2.5 kg to 2.7 kg. Its shelf life has to be tested. Only wider cultivation and testing can lead to a firm conclusion on its merits, he added.

price fall

In the meantime, the price of pineapple continued to rule low. The price of best quality green, usually exported to upcountry markets, is ruling at ₹23 to ₹25 a kg while the price of the ripe variety, sold mostly in the Kerala market, is ruling between ₹22 and ₹24 a kg as on Wednesday.

The formation of Vazhakulam Pineapple Farmer Producer Company has given fresh hope to farmers, who are now reeling under a price fall. The Nadukkara fruit processing plant is in dire straits and little or no market intervention has taken place in recent years due to the financial constraints faced by the company. The crisis gripping the pineapple processing unit has also affected other projects that had been lined up to add value to pineapple farming in the State.

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 hectares under pineapple cultivation in the State with around 4,500 farmers directly engaged in earning a livelihood through plantations.

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