The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in Meghalaya, along with the Meghalaya Basin Management Agency (MBMA), recently facilitated the connection of over 1.3 tonnes of pineapples to markets in the Middle East.
These pineapples, originating from Meghalaya, are now available in prominent shopping centers in Dubai, Kuwait, and Sharjah. As a result of these endeavors, local farmers are enjoying a substantial increase of up to two times in the prices they receive for their produce.
In order to further bolster the market for Meghalaya’s pineapples, the government is making preparations for a Pineapple Festival in Delhi. This festival is scheduled to take place at Dilli Haat, New Delhi, from 18th to 20th August 2023. These initiatives are aimed at bridging the gap between the state’s farmers and the thriving international markets.
It is worth noting that in the previous year, more than 40 tonnes of pineapples were sent to a processing facility in Karnataka, with the intention of subsequent export to markets in Europe and North America. Meghalaya’s pineapples stand out due to their cultivation methods that largely avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
This approach results in significantly lower levels of heavy metals and pesticide residues in the fruit. The pineapples are distinguished by their high sugar content (with a brix value of 16-18) and minimal sourness, rendering them well-suited for both domestic and international markets.
During the harvest season, the entire pineapple fields are harvested for sale, yet only the larger Grade A pineapples are accepted by processing units. This leaves farmers with smaller Grade B pineapples, often referred to as the “table variety.” As these smaller pineapples mature rapidly after harvesting, farmers are compelled to sell them at very low prices, leading to distress sales.
To mitigate this issue, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare is actively establishing connections with local retailers and has recently formed partnerships with Reliance Retail stores in Guwahati for the sale of the table-variety pineapples from Meghalaya.
According to a report by East Mojo, the pineapple trade in Meghalaya has long been controlled by middlemen who secure pineapple farms months ahead of the harvest season by paying farmers a lump sum amount. Although this might satisfy the farmers’ immediate financial needs, they often fail to realize that they are essentially leasing their farms at a fraction of the actual value of the produce.
To address this concern, the government is dedicated to creating community-centered solutions at the grassroots level. This includes encouraging farmers to establish cooperatives and producer organizations (FPOs) across the state, fostering a more equitable and sustainable approach to pineapple cultivation and trade.
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