The outbreak of COVID-19 and the measures taken to control its spread have affected all sectors of the economy. The disruption caused to the horticulture sector in Nagaland has negatively impacted the state's pineapple farmers.
According to Dr R Elithung Lotha, Joint Director & Mission Director (MIDH) at the Directorate of Horticulture in Nagaland, only 193 metric tons of pineapples were sold to Assam and 195 metric tons within the state till August 13.
Ali, a roadside pineapple vendor in Dimapur, said that there are few buyers within the town as people are hardly coming out of their homes.
"Maybe, people don't have money to spend lavishly unlike other years since the business has been shut while those who have money don't want to come out of their homes," he said.
Another roadside pineapple seller, Hatneilang Thadou, also complained about reduced earnings due to lesser number of travellers on the highways.
Organic pineapple is considered one of the signature crops of Nagaland. Hundreds of farmers earn their livelihood by cultivating pineapple.
Lethang Misao, a pineapple farmer from Molvum village of Nagaland told ANI that people in his village used to cultivate just paddy in their fields during the early 1970s. However, the horticulture department of Nagaland suggested that they should plant pineapples and distributed the saplings. Today, there are more than 500 pineapple farmers in Molvum alone.
"I have planted more than 1 lakh pineapples in my farm, and could have easily sold it in one season. The price of a pineapple varies from Rs 15- 25 in wholesale," he told ANI.
Misao further said that the main buyers are from the neighbouring state of Assam.
"However, with the interstate borders being sealed during the peak season, the market has gone down drastically," he added. (ANI))