Plight of Pineapple Growers in Darchwai Village::By:Lalthlamuana Darlong
Plight of Pineapple Growers in Darchwai Village
Darchawi village is known for pineapple in the state as well as throughout the country and it is inhabited by the Darlongs. The village situated under Kumarghat R.D. Block of Unakoti District of Tripura. Giant Kew variety of pineapple is prominently the crop grown in large scale in Darchawi village. The increasing importance of pineapple to the economy of Darchawi Village particularly demands a holistic approach to its cultivation and understanding the plight of Pineapple growers in general. As pineapple is the most important fruit, and the third most important tropical fruit, after banana and mango (citrus fruits being produced mainly in subtropical areas) in the state. Most of the production is locally consumed as a fresh fruit. However, the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC) is situated at Nalkata in Tripura and is mainly concentrate in extraction of pineapple juice and the other factory is the Tripura small Industrial Corporations Ltd. (TSIC) Fruit Canning Factory which is situated in Agartala are in a state of non-functional. The marketing problem is mainly due to lack of proper utilization of the resource by the local fruit processing plant the North East Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC). The pineapple growers experience these issues. Pineapple has been growing for mainly agro industry and the fruit trade. Recently, because of the poor quality from the part of the industry, the demand for processing has almost closed down. The fruits are now sold on the fresh fruits at local market, but at a lower price.
In Darchawi Village, pineapple fruit crop is facing the following challenge which affects the overall fruit sectors of the state like Marketing problems; No fruit processing units; No subsidiary sector; and Pressure of Rubber plantation. So, there are huge demands for pineapple products that could either be in fresh or processed form. But, this huge demand is yet to be tapped. Therefore, many Villages like Darchawi, Betcheera (Saibual) and Nalkata were converted their pineapple plantation into rubber plantation. The general problems of pineapple growers are as follows:
Ø Low productivity yield
Ø High fluctuation of product price which effects agricultural businesses
Ø High import duties for packing materials and unreliability of local materials
Ø Lack of financial assistance to ensure continuous and regular supply of raw materials, and high interest rates for loans
Ø Inadequate technology in many areas such as production, farming and product, as well as slow expansion of the growing areas to support the rapidly increasing demand.
During main season, pineapple fruits piles up in the roadside of Kumarghat for marketing by the retailers for fresh consumption but fresh consumption hardly meets the total production available in the season so, in many cases pineapple fruits are sold in cheaper rates or rots which ultimately results in loss to the growers. The need of the hour is to create a facility to utilize the resources available in the state and fruit processing plants should come up in the state and young people should be encouraged to set up agro based venture for tapping these untapped resources. The existing fruit processing plant that is the NERAMAC plants should be revived and made fully functional for availing these precious resources and creating value added fruit products.
To sum up, Tripura has exclusive advantage in producing Kew variety, which is highly suitable for export market. The pineapple growers to a large extent are now adopting the modern cultivation practices like high-density planting, hormone application for uniformity in flowering and other management practices. The pineapple fruits are consumed as fresh fruit or made into products like jam, squash, candy etc., for value addition. The varieties proposed for cultivation of queen and giant kew are huge in internal market as well as export potential is available. Its advantages include longer shelf life, sweetness and can be consumed as fresh fruits. Therefore, if Kashmir is famous for growing apples in the country, Tripura, a tiny State in the North-Eastern region has a potential and is famous for pineapples.
About Author: Lalthlamuana Darlong, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar College, Fatikroy, Tripura.