Agri Business

Kerala High Court orders to consider pineapple farmers’ plea for a relief package

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on September 25, 2020 Published on September 25, 2020

Around 5.4 lakh tonnes of the fruit are produced in Kerala every year from nearly 18,000 hectares are under pineapple cultivation

Pineapple growers seek interest-free loans, minimum support price

The Kerala High Court has directed Central and State governments, the Productivity Council of India and banks to consider the grievance of pineapple growers within one month, seeking a comprehensive relief package for the Covid-battered sector.

The petitioners All Kerala Pineapple Farmers Association submitted before the court to direct the authorities to write off loans of creditors who have been repaying regularly till 2018, grant interest-free loans for future farming till things are improved; announce a minimum support price of ₹25 for pineapple and immediately revive the manufacturing units to produce various value-added products using pineapple.

Also read: Kerala High Court directs State government to hear relief plea of pineapple farmers

James George, the association's president, said the loan exposure in the region amounts up to ₹450 crore and not a single farmer could service his credit in the near future. Around 5.4 lakh tonnes of the fruit are produced in Kerala every year from nearly 18,000 hectares are under pineapple cultivation. For the last 8-10 years, the average turnover out of this sector was ₹1,250 crore per year. More than 5,000 farmers are there in the sector whose cost of production would be around ₹6.25 lakh per hectare.

Of these 18,000 hectares, a major share would be of leased lands and farmers heavily depend on banks and other institutional loans for farming. However, pineapple farming was severely affected lately and things have started worsening since 2018 floods. Besides, due to the pandemic, pineapple prices were nosedived way below the production cost to around ₹2.5-5 per kg, while the cost of production was around ₹23-24 per kg.

Also read: Losses due to Covid crisis claim life of a pineapple farmer in Kerala

The reduced rate of availability of marketable pineapple in the current circumstances caused a reduction in the trade. All these have culminated into what could be called a tragic situation with most of the farmers are in deep debt-traps, he said, adding that the Covid situation resulted in acute labour shortage.

Declaration of moratorium

The association pointed out that the declaration of moratorium for a limited period without arresting the charging of interest has no effect at all and hence, a well drafted Agricultural Debt Relief Scheme is inevitable in this sector. In such a scheme,

there must be powers to the adjudicating forum to write off the liabilities including principal amounts and it should be binding and final on all categories of financiers who advanced loans on kisan-cash credit facilities for pineapple farming.

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Published on September 25, 2020
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