Experiments in pineapple cultivation
August 21 2006: PINEAPPLE is grown in many countries but Pakistan imports fresh and canned pineapple, as it does not produce this fruit. The fresh fruit is sold in the local market at Rs120-180 depending on its size or weight.
The pineapple plant is valued universally for its edible fruit which on ripening turns yellow and luscious with slightly acid and sweet taste and aromatic odour.
The plant thrives in tropical and sub-tropical climate, but it can adapt itself to even moderate climates. It can be grown in a variety of soils that are fertile, have free drainage, and ample supply of water at fruiting stage.
Stagnation of water is, however, most detrimental to the plant. It is also not tolerant of extremes of temperatures and frosts. The plant can be successfully grown in earthen pots, where land is not available.
Propagation: Pineapple is propagated from its seed, crown of the fruit, suckers produced below the fruit. Propagation in rainy season gives better results. Plants produced from suckers fruit in 18 months and from the other methods, it takes about two years to fruit. Vegetative propagation yields two crops in three years. Pineapple is ‘ratooned’ in some countries for a period of five years or so.
The fruit is not only delicious, it also nutritive enough. One cup of raw slices of pineapple (155 gms) give calories 77, protein 6, carbohydrates 14.2, fat 6, sodium I mg, potassium 175 mg, magnesium 21 mg, iron 5 mg, zinc 12 mg, Vitamin A 3.5 (RE), Vitamin C 23.9 mg, thiamine, 14, riboflavin, 05, calcium 11 mg, phosphorus 11 mg, fibre 1.8, and water 88.0.
A poisonous substance is found in the unripe fruit, which is used as a vermifuge. The fruit is also diuretic and removes stones from urinary tracts. Pineapple is a good source of carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium, calcium and Vitamins A and C.
Pineapple is one of the world’s most favourite ‘dessert’ and its slices are served at breakfasts, luncheons and dinners.
In the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent, some people have it in rice that makes the dish sweet. Pineapple is used in bakery products like cakes, confectionery, ice-creams, beverages and non-alcoholic ‘punch’.
Pineapples are used to make pies. Its fibre, being soft and strong, is used to make delicate fabrics and cordage in the Philippines and Taiwan. In Philippines, the fibre thread is called ‘pina’. The thread is used to string praying beads (rosaries).
In view of the growing demand, some residents of the Defence Housing Society and the PECHS (Karachi), took advantage of the city’s relatively mild and moderate climate and started planting the fruit as home-gardening. Surprisingly, it flowered and fruited.
A lady in the Defence Housing Society who cultivated the fruit from one or two suckers, now maintains nearly 1000 plants in pots with the about 1000 pineapple plants with the help of two ‘malis’. She maintains her collection now for more than 15 years and distributes the fruit among relations and friends.
The experience shows that planting in pots is more manageable than in beds. For controlling the insect pests, she uses pesticides. She asks that if a lay person like her can grow pineapple, why not others?
It would be really worthwhile such as the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Department of Agriculture, Sindh and the University of Karachi to find out whether or not pineapple could be a remunerative crop for gardeners, in and around Karachi?