Agartala export of Queen pineapples gets affected due to scanty rainfall and lockdown:

Agartala, June 11: Scanty rainfall and shortage of workers in Agartala during lockdown has left many pineapple orchards neglected. As a result, pineapple producers fear poor business this year.

Monkeys have damaged crops in large quantities in many areas that mark the international border with Bangladesh.

Farmers at a plantation in Nandannagar are deeply concerned about their harvest as most of the fruits have grown very small and that will pose challenges as they are not of the export quality.

One of the owners of the pineapple plantation at Nandannagar, Naresh Chandra Deb said that the problem was caused due to the lack of rainfall, less or no irrigation facilities and very few workers.

His brother Dulal Chandra Deb, on the other hand, said that “nobody is willing to come back to work out of the fear of the virus.” He added that they haven’t fetched any buyers yet. In normal circumstances, the orchard is a busy place. Workers play a huge role there as they provide abundant supply to the dealers.

We had no workers available to tend the pineapple plantations during all these months of lockdown. It’s 19-20 days since harvest season started and yet our fruits haven’t even grown fully”, Naresh Chandra said.

The Deb brothers cultivate the Queen pineapple variety. They are small in size. The fruits are generally exported to Doha, Bangladesh, Dubai and other Indian states.

The small size of the Queen breed pineapples will affect the export business largely.

We want the government to provide us with sufficient irrigation facilities, ensure procurement and marketing and set up processing factories for optimum utilization of our products”, Naresh said.

Manindra Maak, a 75-year-old plantation worker, said he has been working at the orchard for the last 40 years. According to him, there is no artificial irrigation facility available. However, with a satisfactory number of workers, the plantation can be free of weeds. In the absence of the workers, this was not possible and hence, the plants did not obtain sufficient nutrition.

Tripura cultivates 1.28 lakh MT pineapples every year approximately. It is produced across 8,800 hectares of land in various districts. Most of the plantation fields are privately owned.