Delhi, August 19 : The 2023 Meghalaya Pineapple Festival was inaugurated on August 18 at the iconic Dilli Haat in New Delhi. The event was organized by the Government of Meghalaya to celebrate the state’s famed produce, the succulent Kew pineapples.

The festival was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Giriraj Singh, in the presence of the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad K Sangma, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Department, Dr. Ampareen Lyngdoh, Minister of Tourism Department, Paul Lyngdoh and other dignitaries. The event was also attended by farmers, traders, and tourists from all over the country.

Minister Giriraj Singh praised the Government of Meghalaya for organizing the festival and said that it was a step in the right direction towards promoting sustainable agricultural practices, fostering inter-state cooperation, and enhancing the livelihoods of farmers. He also stressed the importance of agricultural diversity and said that events like these encourage us to explore the possibilities that lie within our own states and learn about their unique agricultural practices.

The Meghalayan pineapples have the lowest pesticide and heavy metal residue in the country. Also, in regard to taste, they are less sour and significantly sweeter. The pineapples have a Brix value of 16-18, which indicates to the sweetness of the fruit. A testament to the quality of the State’s pineapple, they are being exported to Switzerland to be used in baby food. As the pineapples from Meghalaya are among the rare few in the country that can pass the stringent food testing standards set in place for the European market.

The efforts closer home has resulted in sustained market linkages with domestic processors and retailers. Last year, over 40 tonnes of pineapples were shipped to a Karnataka based processor to be further exported to European and North American markets. These pineapples were shipped by a farmer collective from a quaint little village called Umdihar. It is situated in the midst of the rolling hills of Ri bhoi district, about 50kms from Shillong, with a population of less than 500 households. This year, the same processor has established a mobile processing unit in collaboration with the farmer collective from Umdihar, for taking in larger quantities of pineapples. And over 50 tonnes of Pineapples have been processed by the unit in the first couple of weeks of its operation.

These efforts are slowly coming to fruition now. The government has been working towards mobilising the farmers to form farmer cooperatives and farmer producer organisations (FPOs) across the State and over 350 such collectives have been formed in the last 3 years. The State government has been hand-holding these collectives so that they are able to replace the middlemen and transition to better production and marketing. Collective efforts are transforming the way pineapple is traded in the State. Earlier the farmers were selling pineapples by piece, with each piece being sold for anywhere between INR 7 to 12 per piece. The pineapple weight from 600 gms to 2kgs and irrespective of the weights of the fruit the farmers would receive a lumpsum amount from the traders. Now, through support from the government in undertaking institutional trades, farmer collectives are understanding the importance of trading in ‘Kgs.’ The recent trades have seen their income increase by over twice as they are selling their produce for INR 16 to 24 per Kg to national and international buyers.