As election fervour gathers pace across the country, pineapple farmers have reasons to smile, thanks to rising prices and surging demand for the fruit across the markets.

Traders say prices have registered an all-time high of ₹60 per kg – both for fruit and ripe – compared to ₹48 in the previous year.

The fruit is more in demand, especially in Telangana, Maharashtra and western parts of the country where election campaigns are in full swing. Pineapple along with watermelon is the ideal combo to avoid dehydration in sweltering summer, Baby John, president of Pineapple Growers Association Keralam, said, adding that the on-going IPL season is also pushing up the sales. 

“Besides, pineapple in India is an integral part of every function as caterers widely use the fruit in several cuisines and for making juices, “ he said. Vazhakulam is considered as the biggest pineapple market in India from where the GI tagged fruit is being transported to all the South Indian states and most of the North Indian states.

Yield down by over 50%

However, declining production due to rising mercury levels across growing regions in Kerala is posing a concern for the farming community in catering to rising upcountry demand, he said adding that the production now is hovering at 800 tonnes compared to 2,000 tonnes last year. 

According to him, rising temperatures due to weather related issues have resulted in drying up of plants, and demand generated during Easter, Ramadan and Vishu festivals resulted in higher sales. The demand is still continuing across the upcountry markets in the festival season amid declining production, he added.

The absence of summer rains in growing regions has hit farming for the next crop season. Last year, several players have taken up contract farming by taking land on lease. But majority could not go ahead due to water shortage. Though the growing regions received some showers, the area required follow up rains to boost production, farmers said adding that the emerging situation has pushed up the cost of planting materials, recording ₹13 for sucker due to rising temperature.