DECLARED as the state fruit of Tripura by the thenPresident Ramnath Kovind in 2018, ananas Comosus, the Tripura Queen Pineapple (TQP) is one of the most important cash crops of Tripura, providing livelihood to farmers in all the eight districts of the third smallest state in the country.
Grown in orchards spanning 8,800 hectares, the average annual production of TQP ranges from 1.5 to 1.8 lakh MT pineapple every year. Of course, this is just about one eighth of India’s annual production of 1.2 million tonnes. The total acreage under pineapples in the country is around 90,000 hectares.
While the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) took the initiative of getting the GI for the product, the assistance of APEDA has ensured that TQP now finds a place on its agri exchange and this niche produce is now finding a market, not just across the states of India through the exhibitions organised by the NHB and NERAMAC, but also in the wellestablished export markets in West Asia, Europe and North America.
The opening of the rail, road and river links through Bangladesh has made market access for all products of Tripura easier and economical: this is especially true of high-volume perishables.
Some unique qualities
Let us now talk about some of the unique qualities of the TQP – one of the two varieties grown in the state. The other is called Kew, but this column is focused on the TQP because it occupies a niche position in the state. As the NERAMAC application states, TQP has been cultivated in Tripura from very early times.
As per the local tradition and prevalent practice, in addition to its use as a fruit, different parts of the plant have been used as medicine to treat various diseases. The root and fruit are either eaten or applied topically as an anti-inflammatory and as a proteolytic agent. A root decoction is used to treat diarrhoea. In their traditional lore, people of Tripura have carefully preserved a belief that “pineapple would never betray them”.
Typically, each TQP, with an average weight of 1-15 kg, is spiny, golden yellow in colour and oozes out a pleasant aroma and flavour at the ripening stage. It is also free from any kind of chemical residue as the farmers of Tripura follow organic cultivation process. Incidentally, the TQP is not a single fruit, but a sorosis – with multiple, spirally – arranged flowers along the axis and each of them produce a fleshy fruit that becomes pressed against the fruits of adjacent flowers forming what appears to be a single fleshy fruit.
TQP is best cultivated on soft, undulating slopes of lateritic soil, which is rich in humus and low in calcium. All the eight districts of the state have the suitable temperature (15.6 to 32.2 degree Celsius) and optimum annual rainfall (1,000-1,500 mm per year)
Although these fruits are smaller than the majority of other types of pineapple, but they charm consumers with their golden yellow pulp and delicious fragrance. The juice is bright yellow in colour and possesses very pleasant organoleptic qualities. The sweetness and unique aroma of Tripura Queen Pineapple differentiates it from Queen Pineapple of another region of Northeast India.
The TSS (total soluble solids) content of Tripura Queen Pineapple is comparatively higher . It ranges from 13-14 per cent depending upon the stage of maturity and season. Another distinct feature that marks out these from pineapples grown in other parts of the country is their lesser fibre content.