GUWAHATI, Aug 14 (PTI): Meghalaya’s succulent pineapples have found their way to Abu Dhabi; as the ‘centrepiece’ they now adorn the elaborate display celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav at the Al-Wahda mall.
Grown mostly in the state’s Ri Bhoi and East Garo Hills districts, these pineapples having reached the international market are enabling the cultivators to make good profits.
Cultivated in the traditional manner, these crops are mostly organic and are being recognized for their unique quality and taste not only in India but also abroad. .
“It is a matter of great pride that pineapples from Meghalaya are the centrepiece of the elaborate display celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav at the Al-Wahda mall in Abu Dhabi,” said commissioner and secretary of Meghalaya agriculture and farmers welfare department, Vijay Kumar D.
These pineapples are being marketed through the Lulu Group in the markets of the Gulf countries.
“The recent market linkages to the Middle East and domestic processors are a testament to the immense potential of our state’s pineapples in the international and national markets,” Kumar said.
The surge in prices and establishment of market connections have not only elevated the farmers’ livelihoods, but have also showcased the superior quality of Meghalaya’s pineapples with their exceptional sweetness.
The Meghalaya government has recognized the challenges faced by farmers in the past and have focused on empowering them with community-centric solutions.
The forthcoming Pineapple Festival in New Delhi is yet another significant step towards promoting the product and strengthening its presence in the national market.
“The formation of farmer cooperatives and producer organizations has been instrumental in ensuring fair value for our produce and minimizing reliance on middlemen who exploited us in the past. The recent linkages to domestic and international markets have been a game-changer,” said Selwindro Sangma, president of Napak Apal Integrated Village Cooperative Societies (IVCS) at Songsak Block in East Garo Hills.
President of Silchang Dirimbri Palwang Ading IVCS of Rongjeng Block, Manman S Momin said, “I have never imagined that our pineapples would reach international markets and it is immensely fulfilling to see the hard work of the farmers being recognized and appreciated globally.”
The Jamge IVCS in East Garo Hills district with over 250 farming households from four villages produce almost 100 tonnes of pineapples throughout the growing seasons. It is an example of how successful collectivization can result in doubling farmer’s incomes, Kumar said.
The farmers previously received only Rs 10 per pineapple irrespective of the weight of the fruit, but now they receive Rs 16 per kg, which is equivalent to Rs 21 per fruit. The average size of the fruit being exported is 1.3 kg.
Meanwhile, efforts are also being directed towards increasing the processing capacity and infrastructure in the state through local farmer collectives to enhance the shelf-life of the fruit and reach wider markets.
The state’s agriculture and farmers welfare department has also facilitated a collaboration between the Ri Bhoi district based Umdihar IVCS and Karnataka based IQF Private Food Limited to set up a mobile processing unit for quick freezing of pineapples over the first three weeks of its operation. The unit has processed over 52 MT of pineapples so far.
The department has also facilitated a supply chain arrangement closer home recently, whereby pineapples are being regularly supplied to Reliance’s retail stores across Assam.
This has been undertaken by Tomonpo Anglong Organic Producer Company Ltd, Umwang Pyllun IVCS Ltd and Jirang Organic Agro Producer Company Ltd. from Ri Bhoi district.
Moreover, the farmer collectives are also being trained by the department to aggregate, grade, sort and package pineapples for regular shipment. So far over 5.2 metric tons of pineapples from these farmer collectives have been supplied in three weeks to Reliance stores across Assam.