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A STUDY OF THE CULTIVATION AND POST HARVEST PRACTICES OF PINEAPPLE IN NORTH BENGAL

Surabhi Rai and R.K.Pal Division of Post Harvest Technology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.

India is the largest producer of fruits in the world. Pineapple contributes around 2.7% of the total production of fruits. The fruit is grown in the Northeastern states, West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala. However West Bengal

occupies an important place due to the superior quality of fruits, year round for cultivation compared and to the the relative Northeast.

accessibility

marketing

Moreover West Bengal is the major supplier of pineapples to major markets of north, northwest and north central India. Commercial pineapple cultivation in West Bengal is

concentrated mainly in north Bengal; occupying about 7.5 thousand hectares and covering Bidhan Nagar, Fasidawa and Chopra blocks of Siliguri and subdivision in Darjeeling in Uttar

district,

Islampur

Raiganj

subdivision

Dinajpur district and Mathabhanga and Dinhata subdivisions in Coochbehar districts.

In

view

of

the

international

demand

for

processed

pineapple products and also on account of the concentration of pineapple growing in the district of Siliguri and

Jalpaiguri of West Bengal, the region was notified as an agri-expo zone for pineapples in October 2001. Giant Kew variety is mainly grown in North Bengal. Pineapple is usually as in grown as a of single South crop and The not peak

intercropped

many

parts

India.

season of availability is from June to September however with adoption of the technology of staggered harvesting, fruits are available all round the year. The main season crop which comes in June to September constitutes 60% of the production, 20% of the production comes in October to November, 18% comes in February to March and 2% in December to January as depicted in the pie diagram in figure 1.
SEASONAL VARIATION IN THE PRODUCTION OF PINEAPPLES

Feb-Mar 18% Dec-Jan 2% Oct-Nov 20% Jun-Sep 60%

FIG 1: Seasonal variation of production of pineapples in North Bengal. Earlier restricted only to larger pineapple farmers but cultivation now many was small

farmers too have taken up pineapple growing. It is grown in

the uplands in acidic, sandy loam to loamy soil. The pH of soil in pineapple fields usually hovers from 5 to 5.5. It is usually grown as an alternative to tea, tea being grown in the more acid soils and by larger farmers. The adjacent lowlands are used for paddy cultivation. Most of the farmers of the region grow the crop in a double row system with spacing of 14 X 14 X 40 with some variations. Around 10 to 12 thousand plants can be accommodated per acre. Slip suckers are usually used for planting. Most farmers are nowadays opting for a single crop as the ratoon crop is often of very poor quality. is applied in the ratio of 4:1:3 with 3 to 4 NPK grams

nitrogen, 1 gram phosphorus and 2 to 3 grams of potassium per plant. Potassium is important as it increases the TSS however excess application leads to cracking of eyes and hardening of cellulose fibers. Some farmers also apply some micronutrient mixtures. Irrigation is given my most farmers in about 2 weeks interval or as needed. Most farmers have adopted sprinkler irrigation and manage the infrastructure on a cost-sharing basis. Most farmers apply a pre-harvest spray of Ethrel or Calcium carbide for flower induction. Of recent the practice of spraying NAA to increase the fruit size has also increased. Though only one spray of NAA is recommended farmers sometimes spray 2 to 3 times, this while increasing the fruit size also increases the acidity and may also make the fruits vulnerable to black heart disorder. Some farmers also practice spraying of Ethrel for hastening fruit

ripening and colour development. Micronutrient deficiency may sometimes cause fruit rot and fruit scorch may occur due to exposure to the hot sun. Mealy bug attack causes yellow leaf and wilting of plants. However plant protection 4

measure

for

pineapple

in

this

region

is

virtually

non-

existent. The fruits develop acidity after three months of formation and are tasteless before that. The harvest

maturity depends on the market the fruits are intended for. For the distant markets the fruits are harvested when

mature but still green, for neighboring markets the fruits should be partially ripened while for the local markets and processing harvested industries at yellow in ripe the vicinity The the fruits farmers are and

stage.

local

traders terms for the various stages of maturity being black green, red eye and bottom red and full yellow etc. The maturity of the fruits is judged by the open crowns, where the outermost leaves are oriented at wider angle in comparison to closed crowns in immature fruits, where the leaves are more or less vertically oriented. Sometimes the harvesting is guided by the monetary needs of the farmers and may be not be harvested at maturity stage. There is a demand for small immature fruits without much regard to the organoleptic quality during the festival of Chaat Puja from the neighboring states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The ordinary post sickles fruits no are harvested with the are help used. fruits of No in

specialized are

implements to

harvest

treatments

given

the

commercial practice. The harvested fruits are piled in the fields without any shade, which may lead to scorching of the fruits. There is usually no practice of packaging the fruits for transport. The marketable fruits vary from 500 grams to 3 kilograms in case of larger fruits. There is no system of grading and sorting. Since the fruits are sold by weight some farmers resort to spraying of nitrogenous

fertilizers after fruiting in order to increase the crown 5

weight and hence the total weights. However this practice is detrimental to the quality of fruits. After harvesting the suckers are sold as planting material at the rate of around 2 to 2.5 rupees per sucker. This provides an

additional source of income to the pineapple farmers. Pineapple trade is largely dominated by

dealers and commission agents, who are the link between the farmers and the wholesale dealers in big markets. There is no regulated The marketing farmers or organized totally at marketing the mercy by of the the

farmers.

are

commission agents. The fruit dealers contact the farmers and directly load the fruits on to trucks from the farmers field if readily accessible from the main road. There is no packaging and the fruits are simply stacked on the back of trucks. Otherwise center the by fruits various are transported like to a

collection

conveyances

bullock

carts, rickshaws or auto rickshaws. Bad roads and stacking of fruits leads to injury during transportation, which can lead to secondary infection and rotting. Fruits are mostly sent to distant markets in Calcutta, Malda, Delhi, North central India, Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan for both table and processing purpose. Delhi is the largest market and the fruits get redistributed to other places in north India from Delhi. In the peak months from June to September about 10 to 12 truckloads of fruit are supplied to Delhi each day, 5 to 7 truckloads per day to Calcutta and Malda and 5 to 6 truckloads are absorbed in the local market which also find their way to the neighboring markets of Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan as illustrated in figure 2.

Daily supply to different markets from June to September


14 Delhi 12 10

Truckloads

8 6 4 2 0

Calcutta Local

Markets

FIG

2:

Volume

of

daily

supply

of

pineapples

to

various

markets from North Bengal.


Seasonal variation in the daily supply of pineapples from North Bengal to Delhi market.
14 12 10 12

Truckloads

8 6 4 2 0 Jun-Sep Oct-Nov Dec-Jan Feb-May 2 6 5

Months

FIG 3.Seasonal variation in daily supply of pineapples to Delhi market Each truckload contains approximately 7000 fruits. In the rest of the year the fruits are solely supplied to Delhi

while a miniscule amount also finds its way to the local market. Around 5 truckloads per day are supplied to Delhi from February to May while 1 to 2 truckloads per day are supplied from December to January as seen in figure 3.

Seasonal variation in the price of pineapples in North Bengal 6 5 4


Price (Rs)

3 2 1 0 Jun-Sep Oct-Jan Months Feb-May

FI G 4: Seasonal variation in the price of pineapples in North Bengal. The prices usually hover between 3.5 to 4 rupees in the peak season, 4 to 4.5 rupees for the winter fruits and rises to 5.5 to 6 rupees for the induced fruits that come in the market from February to May. Though there is price fluctuation in the different seasons the variation is not so drastic between the peak and off-season. The prices are maximum from February to May as this is the induced crop locally referred to as the carbide fruits whose cost of cultivation is higher. With inputs from; 1. Dr K.K Aich, Consultant, Calypso Foods private limited. 2. Dr Gautam Roy, Horticulture farm, Mohitnagar, Jalpaiguri.

3.

Indrajeet

Roy,

Pineapple

supplier

and

commission

agent, Bidhan Nagar market, Siliguri. 4. Jagadish Sarkar, Pineapple farmer, Bidhan Nagar block, Siliguri. 5. Pankaj Barman, Pineapple farmer, Bidhan Nagar block,

Siliguri.