Agri Business

Rising pineapple prices bring back farmers’ smiles

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on March 24, 2021

Growers see sweet prospects due to lower output during summer months

With pineapple prices rising, the smiles are back on the face of the growers, who faced a tough time during the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

Prices have increased by ₹6 per kg in the last fortnight, with green apple and special green hovering in the range of ₹25 and ₹26 per kg respectively, and the ripe fruit selling at ₹30.

Citing a drop in production during summer months and the rally in prices of other seasonal fruits as the reason for the spike in pineapple prices, traders said they are hopeful of prices of green fruit topping ₹30 per kg after the Holi festival in North India.

Farmers’ strike hits pineapple sales from Kerala to upcountry markets

The farm-level price of Vazhakkulam pineapple, which has got Geographical Indication (GI) tag, had plummeted to ₹10 per at the start of the year due to a host of issues, including farmers’ strike in Delhi, which hindered moving the fruit to North Indian markets.

Lockdown fears

Baby John, President of Pineapple Growers Association Keralam, expressed the fear that the rising fresh Covid cases in many North Indian States could hit demand in the event of a possible lockdown. “We are slightly apprehensive of the situation as any further restrictions may lead to cancellation of marriages, functions, major ceremonies, thereby impacting pineapple consumption”, he told BusinessLine.

Kerala announces ₹15/kg MSP for pineapples

Mounting production cost has nullified the benefits of soaring pineapple prices so far. As a measure to contain the rising production cost and to obtain maximum price, many farmers have started plucking the fruit as the size of the fruit gets further reduced in summer.

Alex Joseph, a trader in Vazhakkulam, said increasing Covid cases in Maharashtra — which accounts for 40 per cent of total pineapple consumption — is a major concern. Pineapple is an integral part in Ramzan fasting and the fruit production and prices look up during the festival period. The area-wise lockdown might hit the business badly in the main consuming centres of thickly populated cities in Maharashtra, he said.

According to traders, summer has begun to affect production, with a reduction of 1,000 tonnes per day from 1,500 tonnes in the last 15 days. Buoyed by the showers early this year, the annual production is expected to touch 4.5 lakh tonnes by the end of the current fiscal, almost the same as last year.

Impact of ODOP

T Maya, Head, Pineapple Research Station, Vazhakkulam, Kerala Agricultural University, said surging prices have given new hope to the farming community to try its luck for the next crop season.

After putting pineapple crop under One District One Product (ODOP) both in Ernakulam and Kottayam districts, there are enquiries from pineapple-based industries across the country to set up value-addition units. This will benefit the sector in a big way, as there is an assured market for farmers, she said, adding that the MSP announced by the Kerala Government for the fruit would further ensure support in case of a price fall.

Published on March 24, 2021

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