Agri Business

Easing of lockdown rules proves beneficial for Kerala’s pineapple growers

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on March 31, 2020

Kerala’s pineapple growers heaved a sigh of relief following the exemptions given to all farm-related work from the lockdown rules.

The nod given by the authorities has enabled pineapple growers to start harvesting on a limited scale, around 200 tonnes per day, said Baby John of the Pineapple Growers Association, Kerala. “We have got orders to dispatch 10 tonnes to Kozhikode, but limited availability of trucks is posing a problem”, he said, adding that there are also enquiries from Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru following the easing of restrictions in cargo movement.

The shortage of fruit has pushed up the prices of the fruit to ₹60 per kg in many retail markets against the farm gate price of ₹10-15 for the GI tagged Vazhakulam pineapple. The easing of lockdown rules is a great relief to pineapple growers as it would help them to engage their workforce, especially migrant labourers, in the present environment where there is no work, he added.

Baby John acknowledged the role BusinessLine has played in highlighting the plight of pineapple growers. The farmers have sought relief along the lines of what was extended to tomato farmers in Madhya Pradesh for harvesting their stock. The pineapple growers had pointed out that around 5,000 tonnes is now ready for harvest on around 45,000 acres and about 1,000 tonnes have already rotted due to the lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Agricultural University has developed an improved unit brush cutter pineapple harvester with a fruit holding attachment. Traditionally, pineapple harvesting was carried out manually, with a special knife. It is a tedious and labour-intensive activity. The sharp thorny leaves make harvesting extremely cumbersome, as hand access to the fruit is difficult. In some regions, the adjoining leaves, which hide the stem of the fruit, need to be pruned as a pre-harvest operation to make harvesting easy.

To overcome such problems, an improved unit has been introduced and the average time of harvesting 10 fruits is four minutes. The performance of the newly developed unit was found better than other pineapple harvesting machines previously developed, said P Shaji James, Professor, Agriculture Research Station, KAU.

Published on March 31, 2020

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