In the hilly regions of Kozhikode, pineapple cultivation is slowly catching on. At Thiruvambadi, Koodaranji, and Koombara, farmers lease out their land, mostly new rubber plantations, to seasoned pineapple cultivators. Two purposes are served — the fruit, planted as an intercrop, gives reasonable returns to both the landowner and the tenant; and it prevents soil erosion.

K. Johnson, a farmer and the leader of a prominent farmers’ organisation, says the trend has gained popularity in the past three years in the region. “Only a few landowners opt to cultivate pineapple. They usually lease out their property,” he adds.

In rural Kozhikode, landowners get a minimum of Rs.30,000 for leasing out one acre of land for a year for the intercrop cultivation. Young landowners say they enjoy several indirect benefits, other than the revenue they get as lease amount from cultivators. “If pineapple is grown in newly planted rubber estates, the manure used for the fruit crop will speed up the growth of rubber saplings,” says Binu Jose, a farmer.

A major benefit, farmers say, is that both landowner and the pineapple grower are equally rewarded. “Whatever be the price of the produce, the landowner is sure to get his lease amount and protection from soil erosion. If the season and demand are favourable, cultivators too enjoy a good harvest,” they say.

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