Project highlights
Growers to get Rs 25,000 subsidy a hectare
APEDA to fund packing house at NAPC
Organic pineapple to be priced 30% higher

Vipin V. Nair

Kochi, Feb. 26

Perhaps for the first time in the country, large-scale organic pineapple farming will take place in Kerala with Nadukkara Agro Processing Company Ltd (NAPC) embarking upon a project on 100 hectares.

NAPC, owned 70 per cent by pineapple farmers, is drawing growers into organic farming by offering a subsidy of Rs 25,000 a hectare, said Mr Sasikumar, Managing Director.

"If everything goes well, we will have organic pineapples in the market next year," he said.

"We have already enrolled 60 farmers." The Kerala State Horticulture Mission is providing subsidy of Rs 25,000. The National Horticulture Mission had earlier allotted Rs 75 crore to the State.

In organic farming, no chemical fertilisers or pesticides should be used. Normally farmers use urea to increase the weight of the pineapple, which will not be the case in organic farming.

NAPC will monitor the farming to ensure that farmers stick to the norms of organic farming. It will also bring in agencies that certify organic farming practices, Mr Sasikumar said.

Push to exports

Organic pineapple will be priced at least 30 per cent more than normal fruits. It is also expected to brighten the prospects for fresh pineapple exports from India.

"Our marketability will improve with organic pineapples," Mr Sasikumar said. NAPC is currently doing a pilot export project to lay down technical procedures for shipping pineapple by sea, thereby making bulk exports of the fruit possible.

The protocol is being developed by the Agricultural and processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Kerala Agri Export Zone of the State agriculture department and NAPC, in collaboration with CIRAD, a French agricultural research body.

Finalising protocol

NAPC had sent a six-tonne consignment to Dubai in December last. It is again sending a similar quantity next month. "We found that there is need for further improvement before we finalise the protocol," Mr Sasikumar said.APEDA will provide funding of Rs 3.90 crore to set up an export integrated pack house at NAPC to help the exports initiative. Issues such as reducing the farm heat, pre-cooling and packaging will be addressed once the integrated pack house comes up.

A memorandum of understanding in this regard will be signed by APEDA and NAPC in the first week of March.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 27, 2006)
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