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Pineapple has become the economic backbone of a sizeable section of farmers who have been cultivating it as their major source of income in Manipur.
The plus point of Manipur variety pineapples – Kew (big size) and Queen (small size) are suitable soil for its cultivation and its distinctive taste and flavour when sold in market.
This can be seen at Angtha, a village in Andro constituency in Manipur’s Imphal East district where more than 200 families are taking up pineapple cultivation for their livelihood apart from traditional paddy cultivation round the year.
L Sanahanbi of Angtha Maning Leikai said that they have started pineapple cultivation in a small area. But after the demand in the market and its sustainable production, they are presently cultivating it in an area covering more than one hectare annually.
“One Sangam area (equivalent to a quarter of a hectare) can produce around 5000 pineapples in season if we protect the plants,” said 51-year-old Sanahanbi.
Thus Sanahanbi’s family which once faced a lot of hardship due to the lack of financial support to run the family now managed to acquire a small piece of paddy field for them and they are getting regular income from the pineapple cultivation in their village.
Another housewife, K Ibeyai (40) of the same Angtha Mamang Leikai village who cultivates pineapple only recently after observing others atan area measuring around a Sangam also shared a similar sentiment.
Presently Ibeyai who is a mother of three children is presently maintaining 500 pineapple plants in her field.
According to M Babu, advisor of Development Organization, Andro Kendra (DOAK), there are 200 pineapple farmers in Angtha village alone and they produce a good number of pineapple annually.
Thus almost all the families who cultivate pineapple have improved their economy in a big way as they can sustain their livelihood by doing only pineapple cultivation in a year.
As a result DOAK had been organizing state level annual pineapple festival since 2007 onwards to increase the production of pineapples.
The festival was organized for a week from July 14 this year with a target to produce 3000-4800 metric tonnes against the production of just 150 metric tonnes in 2007.
Interestingly, Manipur Organic Mission Agency, a society under State Horticulture Department has been promoting 600 pineapple farmers – 400 from Imphal East, Kangpokpi and Thoubal districts belts and 200 others from Churachandpur district belt, covering 600 hectares.
The authority also reportedly provides Rs 7,500 to each farmer annually.
Thoubal and Imphal East mainly produce Queen Variety while remaining areas produces Kew variety.