About

Author: Prof. Dr. K.P Kuriakose

INTRODUCTION

Pineapple (Ananas comosus (Linn.) Merr., family Bromeliaceae) is also known as the “fruit of Kings”. It is believed to have originated in South America, somewhere in southern and central Brazil, northern Argentina and Paraguay.  Columbus recorded the existence of pineapple in West Indies islands in 1493.  Voyagers took the pineapple to different parts of the world and reached Kerala in 1548.

Most of the cultivated varieties in pineapple come under two major groups, viz., Cayenne and Queen groups.  The Kew variety grown in most of the states in India comes under Cayenne group and is good for processing.  The Mauritius variety, now widely grown in Kerala, represents Queen group and is an excellent fresh fruit.

The juice of pineapple fruit is considered as a ‘health drink’ that contains several vitamins, minerals and medicinal properties.  Pineapple is the only source of bromelain, a complex proteolytic enzyme used in pharmaceuticals and as a meat-tenderising agent.  The stem of the plant can be used for bromelain and starch extraction.  Its fibrous leaves are used in some countries for paper and cloth making and to make silage for cattle feed.  The fruit processing wastes such as peel, core and centrifuged solids from juice production can be used as cattle feed, biogas production and compost making.  Wine can be made from fruit juice.

 

WORLD SCENARIO

Pineapple is an important tropical fruit showing an increasing demand worldwide, over the years.  More than 20 % of the world production of tropical fruits is contributed by pineapple and it is second only to bananas as the most important tropical fruit.  It is produced in about 80 tropical and subtropical countries covering an area of 8.5 lakh ha.

Global production of pineapple is around 15 million metric tons of which the Indian share is about 1.38 million metric tons (9.2%) from 91000 ha.  India ranks VIIth position among the producing countries, after Brazil, Philippines, Costa Rica, Thailand, China and Indonesia (2010).

Area and Production of pineapple in seven leading countries during 2010

       Country

Area (ha)

production (lakh tons)

Brazil

58507

22.05

Philippines

58949

21.69

Costa Rica

45000

19.76

Thailand

93312

19.24

China

57327

15.19

Indonesia

12141

14.06

India

91900

13.86

Most of the pineapple harvested is consumed as fresh fruit in the country of production. Ninety percent of the world demand for fresh pineapple is from twelve countries, viz., USA, France, Japan, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Canada, Spain, England, Korea, Netherlands and Singapore. There is 100 % increase in the world marketing of fresh pineapple during the last one decade.  This is mainly due to the introduction of MD2 variety having long shelf life.  This variety is resistant to internal browning and hence suitable for long distance transport under low temperature.  Thailand holds 42 % of the world canned pineapple exports in the world.  The global trade is around 50 percent as fresh fruit, 30 percent as canned product and 20 percent as juice concentrate.  But in the export scenario the share of India is negligible (0.1%).

Export of fresh and processed pineapple from eight countries during 2010 (tons)

Countries

Fresh fruit

Juice concentrate

Canned

Brazil

1886

3394

108

Philippines

164650

77367

138742

Costa Rica

1677702

63542

60

Thailand

2666

131316

518974

China

4725

3113

50689

Indonesia

67

21273

136934

Sri Lanka

900

295

India

1895

145

PINEAPPLE IN INDIA

In India, pineapple is grown mainly in the north-eastern states and West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka etc.  In all the states, except Kerala, the main variety grown is Kew which is suited for processing.  In Kerala the main variety grown is Mauritius suited for fresh fruit consumption.  However, in recent years, other states also started growing Mauritius variety.

Area(000’ha), Production(000’tons) and Productivity(tons/ha) of pineapple in India (state-wise except Kerala)

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

State Area Production Productivity Area Production Productivity Area Production Productivity
West Bengal

9.6

283.9

29.7

9.6

293.8

30.5

9.9

303.7

30.6

Assam

12.9

225.1

17.5

14.2

223.0

15.7

14.0

220.7

15.8

 Karnataka

3.0

186.3

61.7

2.8

177.2

63.3

3.0

186.1

62.0

Bihar

4.7

119.5

25.5

4.7

125.0

26.4

4.9

129.4

26.5

Meghalaya

10.8

106.8

9.9

10.8

106.8

9.9

9.7

86.0

8.9

Tripura

6.3

101.2

16.1

6.8

117.5

17.3

6.8

153.3

22.6

Manipur

8.6

78.5

9.1

12.1

103.5

8.6

12.2

104.4

8.6

 Nagaland

3.7

57.5

15.5

8.0

80.1

10.0

3.7

57.5

15.5

Arunachal Pradesh

9.3

37.8

4.1

10.9

34.4

3.2

10.9

34.4

3.2

Others

2.4

41.9

17.3

2.2

44.8

20.6

3.5

54.5

15.6

Total

71.3

1238.5

17.3

82.1

1306.1

15.9

78.6

1329.9

16.9

 

PINEAPPLE IN KERALA

Production and marketing of Mauritius variety of pineapple in Kerala is centered around Vazhakulam a small town 10 km east of Muvattupuzha, and it later spread throughout the state,   but it is the commercial centre of pineapple production in Kerala. Pineapple is being cultivated at Vazhakulam area from early 1940’s onwards as a homestead crop and marketed in the Vazhakulam market which started functioning from 2.3.1897, officially as a general market.  At that time, the variety grown was mainly Kew and the produce was mainly marketed to processing industries.  Upto the end of 1970’s, Kew variety was widely grown in the districts of Ernakulam, Kannur, Kottayam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta etc.

Towards the early 1980’s, the demand for fresh fruit increased and the farmers gradually changed over to the Mauritius variety to utilize the fresh fruit market.  Kew variety cannot be transported to long distances for marketing as fresh fruit as the loss due to damage is higher.  Moreover, the sugar content in Kew variety is lower than the Mauritius variety.   The changeover to Mauritius is also due to the uneconomical pricing policy and the seasonal demand and purchase by processing industries.  As a result of this, the area under Kew started decreasing and the area under Mauritius variety started increasing.  Towards the middle of 1980’s many educated youngsters entered into pineapple cultivation and marketing and the system of leasing of land for pineapple cultivation started. With the widespread adoption of ethephon for uniform induction of flowering during the 1980’s and also due to the aggressive marketing in other states, harvests are scheduled to the peak demand seasons. However the recent trend is to schedule harvests throughout the year.

District-wise Area and Production of pineapple in Kerala

District

Area

(ha)

Production

(tons)

Thiruvananthapuram

160

4000

Kollam

324

8100

Pathanamthitta

635

15875

Alappuzha

70

1750

Kottayam

2140

53500

Idukki

1615

40375

Ernakulam

5250

131250

Thrissur

320

8000

Palakkad

356

8900

Malappuram

428

10700

Kozhikode

620

15500

Wayanad

45

1125

Kannur

390

9750

Kasaragod

226

5650

Total

12579

314475

Growers are leasing land for pineapple cultivation in all parts of the state, mainly in rubber replanting areas.  During 1990’s the area under Mauritius variety increased considerably and the farmers started intensive cultivation in all kinds of land.

In Kerala pineapple is grown mainly as an intercrop in rubber and coconut, and also as pure crop in garden land and in converted paddy fields.  The system of pineapple intercropping in rubber gives additional income to the land owner, and hence this system is fast spreading throughout the state. Pineapple fruits are produced round the year in Kerala.  This is possible due to the long duration of rain and the summer showers at short intervals.  Hence staggered planting is possible, and hence planting is practiced in almost all months.  Harvesting is done within one year and two to three ratoon crops are taken which require only shorter period.  All this contributes to the availability of fruits round the year.

 

SCOPE FOR INCREASE IN AREA UNDER PINEAPPLE

The preference for fresh fruit over processed fruit products and the trend of increasing fruit consumption among the people especially the middle and upper class are important aspects which contribute to the future of pineapple. There is immense potential to increase the area under pineapple in Kerala by growing it as an intercrop in coconut and rubber plantations.  Coconut is grown in about 8 lakh hectares and rubber is grown in 5 lakh hectares.  If pineapple is grown as an intercrop in coconut garden it will give an additional income, especially in root wilt affected areas it will be a solace to the farmers.

Out of the 5 lakh hectares of rubber, about 15000 hectare is replanted every year.  Pineapple is grown as catch crop for the first three years in rubber at the time of replanting.  At least half this area under replantation, ie., 7500 hectares, can be brought under pineapple.  Thus over a period of three years 22500 hectares of replanted rubber plantation can be brought under pineapple.  Pineapple cultivation in rubber will give income to farmers during the period when there is no income from rubber.  However, only less than two percent of the potential area is cultivated with pineapple and hence the scope for increasing the area under pineapple is practically unlimited.

 

PINEAPPLE ECONOMY

Pineapple cultivation has become the most important decisive factor of the economy of the major pineapple growing areas. The farmers are getting enhanced income from their landed property. The agricultural workers are getting regular work and high wages. More employment is created among agricultural workers and also in the marketing side through loading and unloading, grading and sorting, transporting etc.  About 50 lakh man days work is created annually.  The labour requirement is to a great extent met by engaging migrant labourers.

At present pineapple is grown in about 12500 ha in Kerala.  The production of pineapple is about 315000 tons and the annual income from pineapple is about 450 crores, even though the pineapple occupies only about 0.45% of the total cropped area in Kerala.  By doubling the area under pineapple cultivation, an additional 50 lakhs work days per year can be created.  This does not take into account people involved in processing of pineapple as only less than one percent of the pineapple produced in Kerala is used for processing.

 

MARKETING OF PINEAPPLE

World over, marketing of fresh pineapple showed a tremendous increase from 7.76 lakh tons in 1995 to 15.5 lakh tons in 2004 (100%) and 28 lakh tons in 2009.  India exported 262 tons in 1995 which increased to 1624 tons in 2004 (520%).  Imports by countries in Asia, South Asia, West Asia and along the rim of Indian Ocean comes to around 2.1 lakh tons during 2004, mostly from far away countries.

The pineapple cultivation in Kerala is dependent on fresh fruit market, supplying about 80% of its produce to outside Kerala.  It will be possible to meet the demands for fresh pineapple in outside Kerala and neighbouring and nearby countries by increasing the quantity and quality of fruit produced.  Demand for pineapple as a fresh fruit is increasing in most of the countries.

The Mauritius variety grown in Kerala is marketed in about 10 states in India including New Delhi.  It is also exported to Gulf countries through air freight.  Marine exports from Vallarpadam, Kochi to gulf countries have also been started recently.  This will reduce the cost of transport considerably.  It is possible to increase its marketing by exploring new markets and techniques and also by increase in quality and quantity of fruit produced.  Consumer preference and marketing strategies are to be taken into consideration.

 

PRESENT SCENARIO IN KERALA

Production –   The cost of production has increased tremendously to about Rs.14-15/- per kg which increases the risk factor.  Increase in cost of all inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, labour, leasing cost of land, interest rate for loan etc has contributed its share to this.  As the cost of cultivation is very high, farmers have to depend on bank loan for pineapple cultivation.  Cultivation in small area has become uneconomic.

Marketing – The price of fruit is highly unsteady and it fluctuates daily or even within a day. The price is mainly dependent on the demand from outside the state and quantity of fruit committed to supply on that day. At Vazhakulam, most of the traders are also growers, which is the practice in the countries that are successful in the pineapple sector.

Social issues – In recent years, social issues like protests against use of pesticides, ecological issues, public health problems, rules on land utilization etc in certain areas of the state also added problems for the cultivation.

Processing sector – In the processing sector, the Nadukkara Agro Processing Company (NAPCL) at Nadukkara, Muvattupuzha and the Agreenco Company, Kannur are the two major established companies.  But the Agreenco has not yet started commercial production in full stream.  The NAPCL is processing only about 0.5% of the pineapple produced in Kerala.  Apart from these two, there are several smaller units which produce pineapple pulp, jam, squash, pickles, RTS drinks, cocktails etc.  In general, the fruit processing industries are working at very low efficiency of their installed capacity, even though the RTS beverages have great prospect in Indian market.

Waste utilization –  The bio-wastes like crown, leaves, cores, peels, stem, effluents etc from pineapple production and processing, which can be used for production of value added products, are not utilized at present.

 

INSTITUTIONAL INTERVENTIONS

State Horticulture Mission is implementing various schemes to increase the production and productivity of pineapple by giving financial assistance for area expansion, adoption of organic farming, vermicompost production, creation of water resources etc.  They had also taken up programmes in post-harvest management like establishment of integrated pack house, sorting and grading units, cold storages etc.  VFPCK is having rural markets in which pineapple is also marketed.

The Nadukkara Agro Processing Company is having facility to process 70 tons of pineapple per day.  They are marketing pineapple based products which is very popular.  The Company intervenes in the market by purchasing pineapple when the price goes below the economic level which helps to stabilize the price.  They have an integrated pack house for export of fresh pineapple.

The Pineapple Research Station at Vazhakulam, that started function on 2.1.1995 under the Kerala Agricultural University, has developed the package of practices recommendations for the Mauritius variety of pineapple and all the technology developed are being delivered to the pineapple growers extensively and widely adopted by them.  The University is having another pineapple research station at Vellanikkara, Thrissur.

The pineapple growers in Kerala are well organized under “the Pineapple Farmers Association” at Vazhakulam.  They regularly conducts seminars for the benefit of farmers in association with various service agencies like Kerala Agricultural University, Department of Agriculture, SHM, input agencies, medias, banks etc.

One Pineapple Merchants Association is also functioning at Vazhakulam which cater to the needs and problems of marketing and merchants.

 

VAZHAKULAM PINEAPPLE

Pineapple is grown in Vazhakulam area from 1940’s onwards.  Hence the growers in this area have developed their traditional knowledge to produce excellent quality pineapple for fresh consumption.  At the same time they adopt scientific developments in the areas of production, processing and marketing.  Hence pineapple from Vazhakulam, known as “Vazhakulam Pineapple” got great demand all over India and also outside India.  Now marketing of pineapple in Kerala is being regulated from Vazhakulam.  Hence Vazhakulam was developed as the biggest pineapple market in India.  Based on all these, “Vazhakulam Pineapple” got geographical indication registration in 2009.  The production area of “Vazhakulam Pineapple” is spread over 116 panchayats in the districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki covering an area of about 10000 ha.  The pineapple produced in these areas is known as “Vazhakulam Pineapple” all over India where it is marketed.  It maintains uniform quality mainly due to almost similar soil and climatic conditions, production techniques etc.

It may be possible to market “Vazhakulam Pineapple” outside India in a big way, the possibility of which has to be explored.

 

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PINEAPPLE IN KERALA

Kerala has great opportunities for expansion of pineapple sector because –

 Pineapple can be grown in all the districts in Kerala.
 No additional land area is required as it can be grown as an intercrop in rubber, coconut and cashew.
 Only about 2% of the potential area is brought under pineapple at present.
 Well experienced educated business minded farmers available.
 Very favourable climate to produce pineapple throughout the year by staggered planting, management and harvesting.
 The Pineapple (Mauritius variety) from Vazhakulam is already very popular for its flavor and as it got branded protection (“Vazhakulam Pineapple”) by Geographical Indication Registration, worldwide export is possible in its brand name.
 Farmers and traders are well organized.
 Leading traders in Kerala are also growers as in other successful pineapple growing countries.
 R&D support from Kerala Agricultural University.
 Development support from SHM, VFPCK, Department of Agriculture etc.
 Marketing network throughout India.
 Large scale processing industries like NAPCL and Agreenco and several smaller units available.
 The pineapple from Kerala is free from pesticide residue.
 Organic market and network marketing is available.
 All the airports in Kerala are international and hence export by air is easier.
 Cheaper marine export from Vallarpadom Container terminal is possible.

 

CHALLENGES FOR PINEAPPLE IN KERALA

Even though Kerala has great opportunities for expansion of pineapple sector, it also has some challenges that are to be managed.  They are –

 High cost of production due to high cost of inputs.
 Scarcity and high cost of manpower.
 Difficulty in the mechanization due to the terrain of the major cultivated areas being rubber plantations.
 Cost escalation due to the shifting nature of cultivation as the major cultivated areas are as a catch crop in the initial years of rubber replanting by leasing.
 Difficulty in getting bank loans for leased lands which is essential as the cost of production is very high.
 Promotion of different varieties to meet the diverse requirement like fresh fruit, juice concentrate, canned products etc.  At present the entire area is cultivated using a single variety.
 Fast and efficient storage, transporting and marketing system.  As the shelf life of pineapple is very short, this requirement is very critical.
 Facilities for post-harvest management and production of diverse value added products.
 Ecological issues and bio-waste management.
 Uncertainties in climate, price and marketing.

 

PROPOSED ACTIVITIES

In order to utilize the opportunities and to solve the challenges in achieving the area expansion and production potential, the following activities are to be taken up on priority basis-

– Disseminate sustainable production technology on cultivation of pineapple.
– Provide assistance for obtaining credit and working capital from financial institutions.
– Strengthening of existing market, storage facilities, exploration and widening of new Indian market and promotion of export.
– Give training on appropriate skills and enterprise management in connection with production and processing of pineapple.
– Availing speedy railway transportation and promotion of crate movements to reduce damage in transportation.
– Strengthening existing processing units to its maximum potential and starting new units to produce diverse products.
– Mechanization of farm operations in possible areas and developing technologies for mechanization under Kerala conditions.
– Instant solution to field problems in grower’s field.
– Give training on optimum and safe use of production inputs ensuring safety and public health and address social issues.
– Provide assistance in scientific cultivation, post-harvest handling, processing, storage, marketing and export.
– Assist in procurement and use of inputs necessary for production such as planting material, manures, pesticides, equipment etc.
– Promotion of bio-waste management by utilizing waste for cattle feed manufacture, composting etc.
– Conduct production, marketing and consumer studies anywhere in India and abroad on regular as well as adhoc basis.
– Give propaganda on the virtues of pineapple consumption.
– Promotion of organic cultivation practices.
– Organizing farm clinics, trainings, awareness programmes, workshops etc for scientific production technologies, reduction of production cost, production of diverse value added products, marketing, export, solving ecological issues, bio-waste management etc.