Tripura exported its first consignment of queen pineapple to neighbouring Bangladesh’s Comilla district through Srimantapur Land Custom Station (LCS) last week.
With the BJP-IPFT government in Tripura laying emphasis on local produce, the queen pineapple — one of the three varieties of the tropical fruit grown in the state — has got maximum attention. President Ramnath Kovind declared queen pineapple the state fruit of Tripura during his visit in June.
Last year, 30 MT of the fruit was exported to Dubai and Doha. This year Bangladesh has been added to the list along with local hubs in Assam, West Bengal and Delhi. “We have exported 20 MT pineapples to Delhi two days back. Overall 130 MT pineapples have been exported this year,” Tripura Horticulture Assistant Director Dipak Baidya told indianepxress.com. He hopes to access the Chittagong Port across the border to send more consignments to UAE — Chittagong is only 60 km from South Tripura. Baidya said the state Horticulture Department, NERAMAC and other stakeholders have started to pool their resources to promote aggressive pineapple sales across the country and abroad.
“We have been exporting wood apple and tamarind for the last 3-4 years, but this is the first export of pineapple,” said Jahangir Hossain, an exporter from Sonamura in Sepahijala district. He added that while there was a heavy export duty on anything being sent to Bangladesh, the profit opportunity was good.
Tripura shares an 856-km international border with Bangladesh most of which is fenced off except in a few patches in Sepahijala and Dhalai districts. The increased border vigilance has given a fillip to legal export-import in the last few years.
Meanwhile, the authorities have installed a solar-based cold room at Nagicherra forest development corporation complex near Agartala. Two more similar cold rooms have been ordered from the National Institute of Solar Energy, Haryana to support commercial cooling requirements in case of long-distance transportation. Reefer vans are also being purchased for cooling during transportation.
While exports have been from staggered pineapples (chemical induced off-season crop) so far this year, the onset of monsoon and seasonal pineapple crops hold key to any genuine export potential of the fruit.
According to records of the horticulture department, Tripura grows 1.28 lakh MT pineapples every year across 8,800-hectare orchards in different districts. Some of these orchards are run by the government but most are privately owned. Over 4,000 pineapple growers are directly connected to the cultivation of the fruit here.