Agri Business

Kerala govt offers support price to pineapple farmers

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on November 04, 2019 Published on November 04, 2019

The Vazhakkulam pineapple KK_Mustafah   -  KK_Mustafah

The sharp fall in pineapple prices has prompted the Kerala government to offer a support price to farmers.

State Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar has asked Horticorp to take steps for pineapple procurement, for which the rates are yet to be finalised.

However, growers maintained that rather than a price support, the government should come out with measures to consume the excess production from the market by channelising it to processing industries. The collection of the excess stock by the industry will pave the way for a price rise. Traders also alleged the payments to farmers for the pineapple procured last January is still pending.

According to growers, prices of GI-tagged Vazhakkulam pineapple has dropped to ₹16-17 per kg for special A grade against ₹48 in the previous year. The rise in production following copious rains is said to be the reason for the southward movement of prices.

Baby John, Executive Director of Vazhakkulam Pineapple Growers and Processors Pvt Ltd, told BusinessLine that the commencement of pineapple farming in large rubber plantations owned by corporate companies after felling rubber trees is also a contributing factor for the surge in production. Moreover, the decline in rubber prices also prompted farmers to shift from rubber to pineapple cultivation.

However, traders blame the lack of marketing strategies combined with the higher production for the fall in prices. According to them, a modern pineapple market should be established at Vazhakkulam to avoid the handling loss of more than 20 per cent at present.

Wine production

According to experts, the State government’s nod for wine production is a good move. Surplus crop can be effectively used for producing alcohol and vinegar, besides other food products.

They pointed out that pineapple procurement by processing companies at present is very low and they can take advantage of the price drop to stock more in bulk quantities, convert it into pulp to enable storage and production of diversified food products subsequently.

Baby John said growers’ association is also in the process of setting up a consortium to supply the fruit for processing companies by avoiding middlemen or traders. The advantage is that processors will get the fruit at an assured price and guaranteed rates as well for growers. The delivery will be guaranteed, provided purchase and payments are made on time.

Pineapple production now stands at around 1,000 tonnes a day against 1,500 tonnes in the peak season. Roughly, Kerala produces four lakh tonnes on around 40,000 acres and most of the produce goes into the fresh fruit segment, where the demand is 60-70 tonnes per day.

Of late, the sector is witnessing subdued upcountry demand following floods and rains in North India, he said.

Published on November 04, 2019
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