A typical rains in Kerala have led to distress of pineapple farmers with plentiful supply and lean demand. Prices have crashed by over 50% due to higher arrivals at the terminal market and damaged fruits in farms are adding to the misery. Kerala produces more than 350,000 tonne of pineapples annually with 100-120 trucks ferrying the fruit to the up-country markets.
“Supply irashed,” Noble John of Pineapple Farmers Association, Vazhakulam, told FE.
Lower demand due to rains in the neighbouring states have also led to lesser transportation of the fruit. Varied size and ripeness of the fruits are also adding to the misery and farmers are reluctant to harvest the fruits in many plantations, sources added.
Pineapple prices have crashed by over 50% to below Rs 10 per kg in Vazhakulam-Muvatapuzha markets as on Monday. Average price of pineapple ruled in the Rs 20-30 per kg range for several years with good demand from the up-country and West Asia market.
“Farmers need a minimum of R18-20 per kg to meet the cost of cultivation. Many farmers took to cultivating pineapple after 2013-14, when prices regularly crossed R40 per kg and even breached R50 for a short time,” John added.
Farmers and traders say that support by the government in the form of a minimum support price and procurement in times of glut would have helped a lot. Protest by the farmers last year had led the government to announce a support price of R17 per kg but procurement has been poor due to various factors. Nadukkara Agro Processing Company (NAPCL), a company formed by the government to help farmers, is in bad shape and not helping, John added.
NAPCL is also trying its hand in export of pineapples to the West Asian countries but operations have stalled in the recent past due to various issues.
Indian pineapples can effectively compete in the West Asian market, which is dominated by the Philippines and Sri Lanka. NAPCL has been so far exporting only processed pineapple products such as pineapple juice concentrate.
Good returns from the fruit in the past few years prompted many to take pineapple farming. Higher cost of land and labour are prompting many farmers to promote pineapple in the neighboring states. The finest quality ‘Mauritius Pineapple’ comes from Kerala. The produce of Kerala is very much in demand as a fresh fruit throughout India and also in foreign countries because it is considered the best in quality, sweetness and has good flavour.