Kerala pineapple growers fear repeat of 2018 saga due to flood

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on August 20, 2019 Published on August 20, 2019

The Vazhakkulam pineapple KK_Mustafah   -  KK_Mustafah

Pineapple may turn sour for Kerala growers as the flood in production centres seems to have dampened hopes of a better yield this season.

Many fear a repeat of the 2018 deluge that had destroyed the crop and severely hit production.

Currently, the GI-tagged Vazhakkulam pineapple (Mauritius grade) is in the planting phase -- the season starts from September and ends in January. But inundation of several growing areas is a worrying factor, said Baby John, Executive Director, Vazhakkulam Pineapple Growers and Processors Co Ltd.

The sector is expecting a 20 per cent production drop this season due to weight loss, crop damage and formation of deformed fruits. John said the sector had lost 1/3rd of the crop in last year’s deluge and around 50 per cent of fruits got damaged. Also, the diminishing demand from the markets of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, following the cool-humid weather and continuous rains there, has already started hitting prices, which dropped by ₹10 per kg. The price of green or raw pineapple is at ₹27 per kg against ₹37 per kg a few months ago .

According to John, incessant rains in the growing regions of Muvattupuzha, Idukki, Kottayam, among others, have resulted in decaying of the plant. This phenomenon occurred last year, too, after the devastating floods, leading to deformed fruits. “We fear a similar situation may arise this year also, but it will be known only at the time of harvest,” he told BusinessLine. Deformed fruits can be used only for processing, but at half the price of a normal fruit, he added.

According to PP Joy, a retired Professor of Agronomy, Kerala Agricultural University, plant growth was stunted and fruit weight was reduced due to lack of sunlight.

Most of the plants and fruits in the flooded regions were affected by fungal rot.

Kerala produces four lakh tonnes of pineapple on around 40,000 hectares. Much of the produce goes to the fresh fruit segment in the domestic market, where the demand is estimated at 100 tonnes per day during the festival season and 60-70 tonnes/day at other times.

Published on August 20, 2019
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