Farmers in Kerala’s pineapple country is looking to Nadukkara Agro Processing Company Limited for help to stop prices from falling further in a good season that has seen acreage under the fruit sustaining last year’s levels.
A-grade pineapple was fetching around Rs. 20 a kg over the last six months, but price has fallen during the last three weeks to the Rs. 10 level, prompting farmers to appeal to the Agro Processing Company, which was set up specifically to bail out farmers in times of trouble.
Director of Pineapple Farmers’ Association Baby John told The Hindu on Thursday that NAPC had not entered the market so far despite a promise by the Minister for Agriculture early this year that pineapple would be procured at Rs. 15 a kg.
He also blamed the Agro Processing company for setting an unprecedented condition that farmers should produce certificates from Agricultural Officers for the company to procure the fruits. The company had also set a limit of three tonnes per farmer.
This was not the practice over the previous years, said Mr. John. NAPC was set up with farmers holding 70 per cent of the shares and the government 30 per cent.
However, NAPC had not intervened so far, leaving the farmers to reap a bitter harvest amid a good season that would have seen sales of up to Rs. 450 crore with a marginally higher price.
Mr. John said that price of pineapple was better in November last year at Rs. 13 to 14 a kg. The remunerative price had prompted farmers to keep steady the area under pineapple. There were about 13,000 hectares under the fruit across the state, with almost 2,000 farmers involved in cultivation. The total production this year is expected to be around 3.25 lakh tonnes.
Higher land lease rates this year had forced the cost of production up this season and farmers need at least Rs. 15 a kg to break even, he said.