Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council (VFPCK) will form a new company with the government holding 51 per cent shares to replace the farmer/producer company Nadukkara Agro Processing Limited (NAPCL), makers of the popular Jive brand of fruit drinks.

A senior official of the fruit promotion council said on Thursday it had taken over the assets of NAPCL and its day-to-day operations because the government planned to float a new venture, holding majority stakes. Farmers/producers would only have 41 per cent share in the new venture.

The move has come under criticism from pineapple farmers. A spokesman for Pineapple Farmers’ Association based in Moovattupuzha, home to the GI-registered Vazhakkulam variety of pineapple, said the government was making a “wrong and unjustifiable move”.

The farmers suspect a political plot in the takeover of the company.

NAPCL was floated about 15 years ago with economic aid from the European Union under Kerala Horticultural Development Programme, VFPCK’s predecessor.

The aim was to launch a venture that would utilise the availability of pineapple in Vazhakkulam and give farmers rich returns.

It was one of the first farmer/producer companies floated in Kerala.

However, the State government took over the factory and its assets a year ago because the company had failed to repay VFPCK a working capital loan of more than Rs. 5 crore.

The VFPCK official said the government had approached the Institute of Rural Management Anand (Irma) for a detailed project report on diversifying and expanding the activities of the company, which would have a new name under the new share-holding pattern.

The company had not stopped functioning even for a day since the takeover, claimed the VFPCK official. He said that expanding and diversifying NAPCL activities would require nearly Rs. 90 crore for new plant and machinery.

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