Different varieties of pineapples are cultivated on the local hills. Among those, 'Honey Queen' is a famous one. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious
Pineapple chips, a crispy, sweet, healthy, innovative, and nutrition-dense snack are now being produced at Naniarchar upazila of Rangamati, a region famous for cultivation of the juicy fruit, in a bid to help farmers who often do not get a fair price because of a production glut.
The local horticulture centre is producing the chips on an experimental basis under the Department of Agricultural Extension’s ‘Development of nutrition through Year-Round Fruit Production (YRFP)’ project.
Different varieties of pineapples are cultivated on the local hills. Among those, 'Honey Queen' is a famous one. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious.
This year, the fruit was cultivated on 2,130 hectares of land in Rangamati with a production target of 55,835 tons, according to data of the District Agricultural Extension Department.
In Naniarchar alone, the fruit rich in vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants was produced across over 1,200 hectares of land.
The project has been considered experimental by the Department of Agricultural Extension, said Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, deputy director of Naniarchar Horticulture Centre.
He also said it is the first step in the country.
The initiative was taken to save local farmers who have been suffering from overproduction of the fruit in the area, said Mehdi Masud, director of the project.
Over 1,000 people in the upazila are now involved in the production of the tropical fruit, and they produce so much pineapple that they have to struggle to find buyers.
“That’s why we have been demanding the establishment of a factory which can process and sell our pineapples in the form of chips or juice,” he added.
Farmers in the area do not get a fair price for their produce and a huge amount of unsold pineapples rot each year, said Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, the deputy director of the Naniarchar Horticulture Centre.
“No chemical is mixed with the chips that we make after collecting pineapples from local gardens,” Islam said.
“We send pineapples to different districts of the country after meeting local demand,” said Md Bachchu Mia, a farmer of the upazila’s Bogachhari area.
“Having a pineapple chips factory in our district is good news for farmers like us,” said Sushanta Chakma, a farmer in the upazila’s Burighat area.
“Hopefully, the authorities concerned will buy pineapples from our gardens to make these chips. But farmers also have to be very cautious about getting a fair price,” Chakma said.
Normally, pineapple is sold at Tk 20-25 a piece in the local market while for bulk purchases, the price of 1,000 pieces hovers between Tk 4,000 and Tk 5,000, he added.
The pineapple chips factory was opened in the area as a pilot project, said the YRFP director.
The government will go for commercial production if the product gets a good response from the market, he added.