UDUPI: With prices of pineapples falling in the market, growers of this tropical fruit in Udupi district are staring at heavy losses.Pineapples grown in the district have high demand in upcountry markets like Delhi and Mumbai, apart from Kerala. This year, however, demand from outside the state has fallen and growers are dependent on only the local market -- the reason for the price crash, they say. A few farmers in Karkala have not even harvested their crop as prices are too low.
According to sources in the horticulture department, the district is home to more than 400 pineapple growers who cultivate the crop on 467 hectares. The farmers mainly grow other horticultural crops such as coconut and arecanut, while pineapple is grown as an intercrop. Usually, the demand for pineapple surges in the beginning of February, as people consume its juice to beat the early heat. However, due to the prevailing winter-like weather, demand is yet to pick up.
Farmers are getting just Rs 20 per kg of pineapple, a dip from Rs 60 they got a few years ago. To make pineapple cultivation economically feasible, growers need to get a minimum of Rs 30 per kg, sources said.Pineapple growers in Udupi are expecting prices to go up by the month-end. In a government nursery located at Rama Samudra (Karkala taluk), about 45,000 pineapple plants are grown on about 5 acres.
Officials said the fruit is ready to be harvested, but the price is not lucrative enough. So they have decided to wait for a few more weeks. Nidhish K J, assistant director, horticulture department, said that pineapple cultivation was a success this year as the plants were not hit by any disease. Suryakanth B, a pineapple grower from Mudradi village, said the market price may be disappointing because competing fruits like oranges and grapes are cheaper these days.