Agri Business

Kerala pineapple growers seek help as lockdown hits harvest

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on March 27, 2020 Published on March 27, 2020

File photo   -  KK_Mustafah

The Centre’s initiative to help tomato farmers in Madhya Pradesh market their harvested stock has prompted Kerala’s pineapple growers to seek similar help from the authorities.

According to growers, around 5,000 tonnes of pineapple is ready for harvest across 45,000 acres in various parts of Kerala. However, the lockdown has adversely affected the harvest, leading to the decaying of the fruit. Around 1,000 tonnes have already rotten and the government should take urgent measures to resolve the crisis, Baby John, President, Pineapple Growers Association Keralam, told BusinessLine.

The harvested fruit, he said, can be made available directly to the retail market in the State, which is facing shortage of fruits and vegetables due to the disruption in cargo movement. Also, the government can consider including pineapple in the food kit being distributed to people affected by the lockdown, he added.

Prices crash

The present situation in the country has taken a severe toll on pineapple prices, with the farm gate prices coming down to ₹10 per kg. “If we can carry out the harvest now, the fruit can be sold in the retail market at ₹15-20 a kg, especially when other fruit prices are soaring,” he added.

The rates have declined to ₹20 per kg for the GI-tagged Vazhakulam pineapple, against ₹30 in January.

Almost three lakh families are solely dependent on pineapple farming, which provides around 45 lakh working days a year. Since the labourers mostly stay in the plantations without mingling too much with the public, they should be allowed to carry out the harvest with adequate safety measures. Otherwise, the already ailing pineapple sector will be hit further, John said, adding that the farming community has taken agriculture credit worth ₹700 crore this season.

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The lower price realisation and closing of APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) markets in North India have forced growers to seek a one-year moratorium with interest waiver on their existing agriculture loans. The fruit movement to various destinations has come to a standstill. Delhi and Maharashtra are considered the prime markets for pineapple and the peak season starts in April.

Published on March 27, 2020

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