Under lockdown, Ramjan brings in breathable air for Pineapple

Economy


SILIGURI/ BIDHANNAGAR: Under the suffocating dark shadow of nationwide lockdown, Ramjan brings in minimum breathable air for perishable fruit Pineapple in West Bengal‘s Bidhannagar. The region that contributes over 30% to the yield of whole India, world’s fifth largest producer of the juicy fruit.

“Like everything else, we are also very much under lock down crisis. But beginning of Ramzan and relaxation of transport has given us minimum breathable air,” said Arun Mandal, CEO of Camanas Farmers, Producers Co Ltd and Secretary of Pineapple Growers Association of Bidhannagar.

With around 6 lakh ton annual production in almost 20,000 ha land, Bidhannagar in the foothills of northern West Bengal contributes around 80% to the state output that is near half of India’s total 20 lakh Metric Ton (MT) yield. India is the fifth largest contributor to the global production of around 275 lakh MT.

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“Though genetically seasonal item, now pineapple can be grown round the year with the help of modern agriculture practices. Following favourable price recovery experience in April-May last year, in 2020 also large number of farmers started growing it to get matured output during April end to May. Lockdown came as a million volt shock for all of them with around 50,000 MT matured fruit in hand,” said Susanta Roy, a farmer.

“Without any organized processing facility nearby, local market consumes only 20% of our output. For rest 80% we are dependent on Delhi based central India market while remaining under mercy of middlemen. Like every other things, lockdown detached us from Delhi market,” said Mandal.

“Beginning of Ramjan on the 23rd April gave birth of a large scale demand. With that, relaxation on pineapple transportation helped us in getting the stock to Delhi though price recovered is less than 50% of expected level,” he added.

But, “The situation will be too difficult after lockdown is over. There will be huge volume of stock. But limited buying pattern will keep the demand and pricing for that at rock bottom level. Do not know how to handle that,” said a veteran farmer and trader Pradip Singha.



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