India’s top envoy eyes Jamaica-grown pineapple plants for home state

India’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Rungsung Masakui, many of Jamaica’s offerings – sport, music, culture, cuisine – are enough to please just about everyone.

That’s why when he tasted a Jamaica-grown pineapple, he thought, well, hang on, I want to know more about this big, sweet, juicy product.

Going further, the envoy even made his mind up that he would like to introduce it to the Indian state of his birth, Manipur, in the country’s north east.

So off the high commissioner journeyed to another north east region, this time St Mary, Jamaica, to see how the MD-2 hybrid variety of pineapples, developed in the Central American country of Costa Rica, is grown. At the end of the day, last Tuesday, Masakui went back to his St Andrew place of rest, content that dialogue should start between agriculture interest in Manipur, and the property operated by JP Farms that churns out the attractive fruits to local hotels and supermarkets, and at times ships off a small percentage to markets abroad.

“I am very impressed with what is happening here, and I will start the process to see if we can collaborate with our people in Manipur state, which is also a pineapple growing area,” Masakui said. “Maybe we can start with a Zoom call and continue with further dialogue.”

Masakui said he was further inspired that he should adopt the measure, following a recent trip to India.

JP Tropical Foods general manager, Honduran Mario Figueroa, along with his assistant Kadine Jordine, a Winston Jones High School graduate who is also pursuing further studies in Costa Rica, and pineapple division supervisor Ikel Grant, led the tour of the 20-hectare pineapple facility at Georgia, which, in the end, left those hitherto ignorant of planting procedures, wide-eyed in amazement.

Grant described some of the drawbacks of the high-yield MD-2 variety as “susceptible to too much water, delicate and requiring some level of technical support.”

The variety of pineapples is planted on domes, as it does not do as well on flat land, Grant said of the fruit which is a favourite of Jamaicans for its sweet taste. It matures between nine and 12 months after planting.

Grant, a product of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, said 72,000 suckers are planted per hectare, which yields between 80 to 90 tonnes per hectare at harvesting time.

The farm usually embarks on a ratoon process after the first harvest, which might not increase the yield, but, on the other hand, cuts down on labour and other costs which contribute to the profit-making venture.

“You have a really good place here,” the high commissioner told Figueroa. “We will continue the dialogue.”

“Maybe you could even arrange for some of your people in India to come to Jamaica to see for themselves how it’s done and get a bit of training to go with it,” Figueroa offered.

And, during a sampling exercise, officials at JP Farms revealed to lovers of the fruit, that the sucrose content is higher when the peel is greener, and not yellow in colour as many had thought. That, too, left some in awe.

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