Monday 23 July 2012

Revive Pineapple cultivation; Rubber may an economic activity but we should not make it alternative to pineapple.

Decline of Pineapple and Inclined for Rubber:-

    Rubber is stalling the growth of the pineapple! Pineapple is in the stage of crisis due to rubber! This is because rubber plantation is most sought after and it tends to be every where in the state.
    The last few years have seen substantial numbers of pineapple orchards having been encroached and finally disappearances. It can be apprehended that if same trend continues in future then pineapple will be a scarce item in the state.
   It is not that the initiatives are not taken by the state but despite several initiatives in improving the condition, there are no visible improvements. In the pursuit to improve the condition, considerable amounts is being spent however, number of new pineapple orchard is not increasing as anticipated.
     As a result, in the last decade the total pineapple orchards in the state are actually declining as many orchard owners converting their orchard into Rubber plantation.
   Now, there are reports that farmers are planting rubber seedlings in the pineapple orchard, keeping the pineapple in the field itself.
   What happens is; once the rubber seedling is planted in the pineapple orchard then perhaps that is the day for disappearance of pineapple orchard as decline and decay of the pineapple orchard would starts from the same day itself.
   Of course, like previous years, during this year also pineapple was produced in few parts or region of the state but again it is apprehended that within few years most of the pineapple orchard may be in danger as it may be converted into rubber plantation. 
  Pineapple orchard is encroached and it is happening quite rapidly (In my locality, one farmer who used to maintain pineapple orchard, no longer has the pineapple orchard as he had converted the same to the rubber plantation).
  So, there is rapid decline of pineapple orchard, people and even the concerned department is also worried.
   This is the fate of the Pineapple of the state. Although qualitatively and unit production wise, years ago pineapple Tripura has earned a good name in all India level but struggling now for existence in the race with rubber.
   In the rural areas, although still Jackfruit and Mango trees are still seen in the home stead land or near home estate but pineapple orchard is heavily affected because this is used to be maintained separately as an orchard.
   Rubber after having encroached all the accessible areas /lands is actually in the spree of spread in more areas naturally is eying even other fruit orchard too. In earlier days, people used to maintain fruit orchards like Mango and Jackfruit but those are almost history now.
    Some are critical to the state that there is no plan and programme for reviving and improving the growth of the pineapple. Their argument is; there should be favorable atmosphere in terms of marketing of pineapple fruit and pineapple cultivation is insulated in the state.
  In some ways or other, their worry and anguish may be right. This is because, rubber although it has no direct market in terms of consumption is still demanding and popular and almost all raw material is transported to the outside state for further processing etc.
  Whereas, pineapple, a popular fruit even though it has sizeable consumers in the local areas is still struggling for existence. This is happening due to the lack of processing and marketing strategy.  
   Although there are processed or finished products of pineapple in the market but most of the products are brought here from outside. In terms of processed product availability in the local market, share of the state product is very meager.
   Pineapple processing and creating marketing avenues are some of the pre-requisite for sustainable growth of pineapple sector in the state. In fact fruit processing had long been felt by the state, and as an initiative to utilize the fruit produce of the state a fruit processing plant name NERAMAC was started in Nalkata under Dhalai with branch office in West and Sepahijala districts of Tripura.
  But those fruit processing plants are either not fully functioning or closed and this has affected the pineapple growers. This has led to the crash of the pineapple price during peak production season. All these factors have had negative influence in the mind of the pineapple orchards.
  Few years ago some initiatives had been taken to set up fruit processing plants in Bhodhjung Nagar industrial but as on date there’s no news for operation of this fruit processing plant.
 The places like Betcherra, Nalkata,Darchawii, Mohanpur, Bishramganj,Melaghar and Sonamura which were the prominent places for pineapple production in the state but pineapple growers of those areas have slowly shifted their focus from pineapple to the rubber plantation.
   Now what you observe and find is most of the pineapple orchard with rubber seedling.

Why decline of Pineapple and increase of Rubber:-

    Some of the reasons that are assumed to be acting against the growth of the Pineapple of the state are as follows:-
  • Due to decline in average unit production,
  • In the pursuit to become quick rich, pineapple growers are converting their own pineapple orchard into Rubber plantation.
  • Due to sluggish demand during season, growers do not get fair price for pineapple produce.
  • In absence of processing plants, price of pineapple falls during peak production season i.e. during the month of June and July.
  • No export/marketing opportunity in the neighboring country Bangladesh where there is good demands for pineapple fruit.
  • Lack of cheap labor resource forces farmers to venture into viable options.
  • Farm labors shifts to the non-agricultural activities and also inclined to the MGNREGA.
  • Farmers feels pineapple do not provide continuous flow of income like Rubber.
  • Farmers’ feels rubber plantation is comparatively less burdensome after a period of six to seven years.
  • Farmers do not see any suitable alternatives in terms of marketability and profit other than Rubber.
  • Marketing outside the state is also not conducive due to several factors like transportation, rate and demands etc.
      These are the few reasons farmers have shifted to the rubber instead of sticking to the pineapple orchard. As a result there is increase in the area rubber but pineapple is under stagnation or rather in declining stage.
      Now, at this particular time season for Kew and Queen Pineapple are almost over and another type of Pineapple, Kalanga is in the market. But, there’s no story like earlier days of producing Kew variety of pineapple weighing seven to eight kilogram per fruit.
        Now, there is hardly any sizeable pineapple of that kind that has been observed in this season.

    How to revive the olden glory:-

  • Creating awareness amongst the growers for crop diversification through cultivation of fruit crops like pineapple.
  • Creating awareness amongst the growers and rural people for set up pineapple based cottage industry.
  • Training of growers/rural for making of jam and jelly of pineapple fruit.
  • Facilitates the marketing of the products.
  • Facilitates setting up of mini processing plants in the rural area.
  • Reviving of fruit processing pants already set in the state.
          Agritangkol dated 23.07.2012

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