After a lull, pineapple cultivation is thriving in Kerala, with official data showing that 11,508 hectares are currently under pineapple cultivation compared to 8,045 hectares in 2016-17. This notable shift has occurred in pineapple cultivation in the last three to four years after the total area of pineapple cultivation fell to 8,045 hectares in 2016-17 from 12,486 hectares in 2006-07.
Experts say the rise in pineapple cultivation is due to various factors, ranging from market demand to climate conditions. “Pineapple cultivation in Kerala has witnessed a remarkable upswing. The state’s unique topography and climatic conditions, particularly in areas like Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Kottayam, and Wayanad, have proven to be ideal for pineapple farming. Pineapples thrive in Kerala’s tropical climate with its abundant rainfall and moderate temperatures. Farmers have also embraced modern cultivation techniques and have adopted advanced farming practices to increase yields,” said Baby John, president of Pineapple Growers Association Kerala.
According to him, pineapple as a fresh fruit is in higher demand in the country rather than pineapple-based value-added products like jams, squash, and juices. “Farmers sell 98 percent of their produce as fresh fruit to consumers. Also, the Mauritius variety of pineapple cultivated largely in Kerala is in high demand in northern states. Though government records show that only 11,508 hectares are under pineapple cultivation, our records show that it’s over 20,000 hectares,” he said.
Many rubber growers are opting for pineapple as an intercrop in their rubber plantations. “Also, pineapples, with their adaptability to varied weather conditions, have emerged as a more reliable option for farmers,” Baby John said, adding that the association has also started updating the actual market price of three varieties of pineapples – special grade, green, and ripe – on their social media pages to alert the farmers about price fluctuations.
Though only a place called Vazhakkulam near Thodupuzha in Idukki was known for maximum pineapple cultivation, the trend has started to catch up in other places where rubber plantations exist. Baby John adds that, in fact, rubber plantations are sustaining because pineapple is being largely cultivated as an intercrop by the rubber planters.