The ‘Pineapple Republic’ may find a place on the world map, if the Pineapple Mission being set up by the Kerala government will have its way. The mission, approved by the State Cabinet on Wednesday, is expected to give a big boost to the ‘Vazhakulam pineapple’, which secured the GI (Geographical Indication) label in 2009. Vazhakulam in Ernakulam district, the pineapple heartland of Kerala, may go global as the mission plans to drastically increase exports.
Farmers and traders in the area hope that their product, known for its special flavour and extra sweetness, can take on Thailand, which is the world leader in pineapples.
“The mission can facilitate a drastic increase in exports and build a global market for the Vazhakulam pineapple, like the Spices Board and Tea Board are doing with their products,” says Baby John, president of the Pineapple Farmers Association. Currently, export is limited to a few Gulf countries.
“Creating an international market for the product by building a brand image and strategically using the GI tag is one of our main objectives,” K.P. Kuriakose, special officer of the mission, told The Hindu. “Our core concern, of course, is coordinating production, processing, marketing and exporting.”
The 2012 State Budget had proposed the setting up of the Pineapple Mission and earmarked Rs.1 crore for initial expenses. More than a year later, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the memorandum of association of the mission.
Vazhakulam, jokingly referred to as the ‘Pineapple Republic’, has for long been associated with pineapple farming and trading. The landscape is dotted with small and medium farms.