Agartala: The Tripura government celebrated the fourth edition of the pineapple festival-cum-exhibition organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Friday, with the slogan, ‘branding the kew and queen: creating a niche market’.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Tripura governor Prof Kaptan Singh Solanki said, “To boost the economy of the farmers, processing:of food from state plays a crucial role. Any state or nation can develop by setting up food processing centre with foods being available at a cheaper price. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target to double the income of farmers by the end of 2022.”
However, pineapple farmers complained of huge losses due to absence of food storage and lack of procurement facilities by the government. Several farmers, who attended the event in Agartala, said that they are facing problems since the procurement made by the department is less and the production is more than the demand this year.
Mansoor Ali, a resident of Sonamura sub-division in Sepahijala district, said: “We are facing problem due to the absence of cold storage facilities and lack of labourers in the state to work in the pineapple fields.”
“We have 11 kani (acres) of cultivating in which we used to cultivate pineapple but now we have transformed 8 kani land into rubber plantation due to lack [of] buyers and absence of procurement by any firm,” Ali said, adding: “Three generations from my family were involved in cultivation of pineapple. Last year, pineapples were procured at a good rate of Rs 18-20 but this year so far not a single pineapple has been procured.”
Tripura produces three varieties of pineapples, including Bombay, kew and queen, of which queen pineapple has a high demand and consumption rate. ‘Queen’ variety has also received a GI certification.
Pineapples are being cultivated in over 8,800 hectares of land across the state, in which around 4,000 farmers are involved.
Earlier in 2018, soon after the BJP-Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura (IPFT) government formed the government, over 30 metric tons of ‘queen’ pineapples were exported from the state to Dubai and Doha in a move to revive the pineapple cultivation in the state.
In the current year, the export has increased and over 130 metric tons of pineapples have already been exported from the state to New Delhi, Assam, West Bengal and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh.