Company sanctioned ₹2.55 crore through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for the project

The Vazhakkulam Agro and Fruit Processing Company (VAFPC), jointly owned by the State government and pineapple farmers, will soon venture into producing biodegradable cutlery and plates from pineapple leaves.

Sources in the fruit processing company said the Indian Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Research, Thiruvananthapuram, would provide the technology for the manufacture of cutlery and plates.

The company has been sanctioned ₹2.55 crore through the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for the project. It is initially expected that around 500 kg of leaves will be processed a day, and the fruit processing company will invite bids for setting up machinery and auxiliary facilities for the venture.

The Agro and Fruit Processing Company was set up in 1998 with the support of the European Union for processing pineapple and other fruits, considering the centrality of Vazhakkulam, near Muvattupuzha, to pineapple cultivation in Kerala. It is estimated that there are around 5,000 pineapple farmers in the State, who have brought around 18,000 hectares under the crop.

The company has now slowed down in procuring pineapple from farmers with the price remaining considerably remunerative in the open market. The company targets to provide a support price for the fruit when the market price is down and process the fruit to produce pulp, concentrates, and juice. Company sources also said that VAFPC was planning to bring out the Jive brand of soda soon. Jive is a popular brand of fruit drink from the company.

Meanwhile, VAFPC has begun exporting the Vazhakkulam pineapple, renowned for its sweetness and qualities as fresh fruit, under the geo tag. The first consignment of around 500 kg was shipped to Dubai last week, sources said. Interestingly, the GI tag enhances demand for the Vazhakkulam pineapple considering its qualities.

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