Agri Business

Pineapple prices turn sour on farmers strike, the subdued pilgrimage season

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 06, 2021

Pineapple turns sour   -  BusinessLine

The farm-level price of A-grade fruit has come down to ₹10 per kg, while B and C grades are hovering between ₹3 to ₹5.

The New Year has hardly brought cheers to pineapple growers with its prices plummeting to a record low. The farm-level price of GI-tagged Vazhakkulam pineapple A grade green fruit has come down to ₹10 per kg, while B and C grades are hovering between ₹3 to ₹5.

The average price during the same period last year was ₹28 for special grade and ₹15-16 for B&C grades.

The growers cited a host of factors that led to the drop and significant among them are the farmers strike in Delhi, hindering the fruit movement to the upcountry markets of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh from the capital city, the central transit point.

Baby John, president, Pineapple Growers Association Keralam said that pineapple consumption was low in North Indian consuming markets due to limitation in marriages and other major ceremonies. This has hit sales, especially of premium grades. The restrictions in the opening of star hotels also badly hit sales, as pineapple is a major component in this industry in making fresh juice to customers.

Subdued Sabarimala season

The sector also witnessed a subdued sale in the Sabarimala season as Covid has affected pilgrim arrivals to the hill shrine. Normally, the entire 45-day pilgrimage sees a profitable business with a sale of around 100 tonnes per day. This was virtually nil in this season, he said.

Moreover, a favourable climate in the growing regions with a good rainfall distribution pattern help raise production by about 20 per cent, leading to a surplus. The availability of alternate fruits such as orange, banana and seasonal fruits from other states at much lower prices also diminished demand for pineapple in the domestic market, he added.

Growers pointed out that the daily production in Vazhakkulam, Asia’s major market for pineapple, has come down to 600-700 tonnes from 1200-1400 tonnes. Last year, the production was at 4.5 lakh tonnes. This year’s lower output would impact the turnover from the previous year’s figure of ₹1,000 crore.

Jaison Jose, a farmer-cum-trader in Vazhakkulam, said no takers for the fruit in the market even at these lower prices. As the production cost is above ₹20 per kg, the government should announce an MSP in proportion to the production cost.

The government should also take the initiative to process the excess pineapple for wine production. The government-owned processing facility at Nadukkara is lying idle, and it should be rented out to companies for value addition. Several processing companies in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra are procuring pineapple to make value-added products, he said.

Published on January 06, 2021

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