Kerala is predominantly a horticulture crops based state. The richness in biodiversity and diversified climatic conditions with abundant rainfall make the state favorable for the horticultural and plantation crops. The state accounts for the major productions of pepper, cardamom, rubber and ginger. A wide variety of horticultural crops, fruits and vegetables are grown in the state. Fruits like Mango, Banana, Plantain, , Pineapple, Papaya, jack, are also grown apart from the plantation crops.
Pineapple is a tropical fruit having exceptional juiciness, vibrant tropical flavor and immense health benefits. Pineapple contains considerable calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. It is low in fat and cholesterol. Vitamin C is the body’s primary water soluble antioxidant, against free radicals that attack and damage normal cells. It is also a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, copper and dietary fiber. Pineapple is a digestive aid and a natural Anti-Inflammatory fruit. Pineapple fruits are mainly used in three segments, namely fresh fruit, canning and juice concentrate from fruits with characteristic requirements of size, shape, colour, aroma and flavour.
Pineapple is grown as pure crop and as intercrop in rubber plantations and coconut plantations. Pineapple can be grown in wide range of climatic conditions in area having rainfall 600 mm to 2500 mm and wide range of soils. But pineapple do not tolerate water logging.
In Kerala, total area under pineapple cultivation is 12500 hectares with a production of about 3,00,000 MT p.a. and support the livelihood of more than 50000 farmers. The congenial humid climate has favored the cultivation of pineapple. The finest quality ‘Mauritius Pineapple’ is cultivated in Kerala. The produce of Kerala is very much in demand as fresh fruit throughout in India and also in foreign countries because it is considered the best in quality, sweetness and has a good flavor. Although pineapple is cultivated in almost all districts, the extent and trend of cultivation differs widely among Kerala’s districts. The major pineapple producing districts of Kerala are Ernakulam and Kottayam. Ernakulam accounts for more than 60% of the area under pineapple cultivation in the state. Kerala Agriculture University had started a station in Muvattupuzha in 1995 for research and development of pineapple.
Pineapple is widely grown as an immediate income generation crop which will give yield within one year and sustain for three years.
Muvattupuzha and nearby Panchayaths of the Ernakulam District is an established production centre for many agricultural produces mainly Pineapple. In Ernakulam district pineapple cultivation is concentrated in the area called Vazhakulam. Vazhakulam market is known as one of Asia’s largest pineapple market, trading about 100 truckloads of Pineapple every day.
Vazhakulam Pineapple was registered as Geographical Indication (GI) No.130 under Agricultural – Horticultural product at the GI Registry, Chennai on 4th September 2009. VAFPCL was one of the registered proprietors of the intellectual Property attached to Vazhakulam Pineapple. Vazhakulam Pineapple is unique in aroma, flavor and sweetness due to its high sugar content and low acidity.
In order to support the pineapple growing farmers and increase pineapple cultivation, it is necessary that the farmers and the industry should co-exist as it will compliment each other’s efforts.
Pineapple is harvested in the winter season as well as during July-August. Pineapple is a non-climacteric fruit, which implies that ripening is slow and fruit and the harvesting has to be done taking into account that after separation from the mother plant the ripening would decrease substantially unlike climacteric fruits. This is due to the absence of starch and there exists no possibility in the improvement of quality after harvest.
Pineapples start bearing in 8-12 months. Farmer sources confirm that the average is 10 months and it can be harvested for 3 years after planting, after which replanting has to be done. Cost of cultivation is 5.65 Lakhs/ha and the maintenance cost/yr is 3.50 lakhs. Profit in 3 years come to 1.75 lakhs to 2.5 lakhs per ha. The yield can be in increased by proper and timely management and profitably can be further increased.7