The pineapple cultivation in Kerala is dependent on fresh fruit market, supplying most of its produce to outside Kerala.
Pineapple is an important tropical fruit showing an increasing demand world wide, over the years. World trade on fresh pineapple has shown 100 % increase during the last one decade. Even though India is the fifth largest producer of pineapple in the world, its share in the world market is only 0.1 %. The different Asian countries and the countries around the Indian ocean is importing about two lakh tons of pineapple in an year, mostly coming from distant countries. This market can be exploited by Kerala if an earnest effort is made in the right direction.
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. It is grown in about 13000 hectares producing about 3 lakh tones. Pineapple fruits are produced round the year in Kerala.
There is immense potential to increase the area under pineapple in Kerala as it can be grown as an intercrop in coconut and rubber plantations. Coconut is grown in about 9 lakh hectares and 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. Special attention can be given for intercropping pineapple in coconut in root wilt affected areas.
Out of the 5 lakh hectares of rubber grown, 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. 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 in Kerala is cultivated with pineapple. At present pineapple cultivation in Kerala is generating employment of about 45 lakh mandays among farmers, agricultural workers, people involved in loading, unloading, transporting, traders, retailers etc. By doubling the area under pineapple cultivation, an additional 45 lakhs work days per year can be created.
The pineapple cultivation in Kerala is dependent on fresh fruit market, supplying most of its produce to outside Kerala. The Mauritius variety grown in Kerala is marketed in about 10 states in India including New Delhi. It is also exported to Gulf countries in limited quantities. It is possible to increase its marketing by exploring new markets and techniques and also by increase in quality and quantity of fruit produced. It is essential to explore the possibility for marine exports to reduce cost. Consumer preference and marketing strategies are to be taken into consideration. The annual value of pineapple produced in Kerala comes to about 170 crores which may be next to cardamom and coffee. But it is doubtful whether it is getting sufficient attention it deserves.
The Pineapple Research Station at Vazhakulam was established on 1995 to give research and development support to pineapple farmers. The station has taken up research in pineapple on various aspects like intercropping in rubber and coconut, plant spacing and density, organic and chemical fertilizer requirement etc. besides experiments on development of new varieties. Based on continuous surveillance and laboratory studies the station has identified the presence of PMWA virus in pineapple in Vazhakulam area. Based on all the findings this station has formulated the Package of Practices Recommendations for the popular variety Mauritius and included in the POP and all the technology developed are being delivered to the pineapple growers extensively.