The more than a lakh pineapple farmers in the State, most of them owning small holdings, can now look forward to pineapple taking a big leap over other fruits in the State with the proposal to establish a Pineapple Mission.

The State Budget 2012-13 has set aside Rs. 1 crore for the formation of the mission, which the farmers hope will address issues as varied as marketing and quality assurance.

President of the Pineapple Farmers' Association, Baby John, told The Hindu on Monday that farmers like him have been demanding he establishment of an agency to deal exclusively with cultivation and marketing of pineapple.

He said that it was a long-standing demand, which had found reflection in the State Budget.

The recognition has not come not a day too soon, considering that pineapple accounts for a total of around Rs. 400 crore worth of business annually in Kerala.

According to a rough estimate, 3.25 lakh tonnes of pineapple is produced in Kerala. The total cultivated area is 13,500 hectares, mostly as inter-crop in new rubber plantations. Only about one per cent of the total production is processed or sold after value addition. Here emerges the role of the new agency.

More In: Kochi