Lack of rainfall hits Barak Valley's pineapple harvest, no export this year
Representational Image

Silchar: The scarcity of adequate rainfall has substantially affected pineapple production in the Cachar district’s Lakhipur, which has earned a name globally for producing tasty pineapples.

Lakhipur, which falls in the southern part of Assam and shares a border with Manipur, has a rich and long history of producing flavourful pineapples. Consignments of the fruits have been exported from this place to abroad in the past few years.

Lakhipur has been growing pineapples in Lakhipur’s Jujang Hill (locally known as Jujang Pahar) since British rule. In July 2019, a consignment of 10,000 pineapples of the Kew variety (weighing around 15 metric tonnes) was exported from Lakhipur to Dubai. Zakir Hussain Choudhury, who was the agriculture officer of Cachar district at that time, had told media persons that the initiative was taken by the directorate of horticulture, Government of Assam and facilitated by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). 

According to the pineapple growers of Lakhipur, there has not been adequate rainfall, substantially impacting pineapple production in Lakhipur. In other years, pineapples were sold at much higher rates compared to this year (because of less production). This has hit the pineapple farmers badly, they said.

Talking to EastMojo on Monday, Manthang Hmar, a local research person and a member of the board of directors of Hmar Agro Organic Producer Company, said several people in Lakhipur earn their livelihood by cultivating and selling pineapples. Usually, they earn good money every year, but the unsuitable climate has brought woes for them this year, Hmar said.

In Barak Valley, pineapples of Lakhipur can be seen (during May-July) in markets of various places, especially Silchar, the commercial hub of this valley. In local markets, the prices of a pair of big-size pineapples and small-size pineapples are around Rs. 70-80 and around Rs. 40-50 respectively.

Manthang Hmar mentioned that consignments of pineapples were sent to Dubai from Lakhipur in 2019 and 2022, but this year it was not possible due to less production. Hopefully, the Assam government will look into the issue and extend its helping hand to the farmers so that they do not face such losses in the future, he added.

Earlier this year, Manthang Hmar was conferred the “Assam Gaurav”, the third-ranked civilian award in Assam for his contribution to pineapple production and export. He is the first person from Barak Valley to have been honoured with this award.  

A farmer loads pineapples in a vehicle in Cachar district’s Lakhipur.

A pineapple farmer of Lakhipur, Remling Hmar, said families are struggling to make ends meet this year because of less production.

Another pineapple grower urged the government to help them (pineapple growers of Lakhipur) with the latest technologies so that they do not face losses because of the unfavourable climate in the future.

A farmer of Lakhipur, who comes to Silchar (the biggest town in Barak Valley and the second biggest urban sprawl in Assam after Guwahati), said business has been tough this year. “This has come as a big problem for us as we mostly depend on this to run our families,” the farmer added.

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The district agriculture officer (DAO) said he has spoken to the director of the Department of Horticulture regarding the matter and take necessary steps for replantation where the expected cultivation has faced issues due to scanty rainfall. The department is in touch with cultivators, the DAO said.

Lakhipur BJP legislator Kaushik Rai said he would talk to the authorities/department concerned and check what can be done in this regard.

Zakir Hussain Choudhury mentioned that Lakhipur usually produces pineapples in around 1500 hectares of land in different areas every year during the cultivating season (May to July) and the production remains at around 40,000 metric tons every year.

Also Read | How Meghalaya’s pineapple growers are tapping domestic, int’l markets

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