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Pineapple (Ananas comosus) belongs to the bromeliad family, which contains 50 genera and about 2,500 known species. It is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between Southern Brazil and Paraguay.
Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in color and has a vibrant tropical flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture
It has dagger-like leaves (it is a monocotyledon), and it is cultivated as a biennial plant. The first year it undergoes vegetative growth where the plant produces the leaves and the second year a flowering stalk arises from the center. On this stalk are produced up to 200 flowers, an inflorescence, which latter forms a solid structure, called a multiple fruit.
There are more than a hundred varieties of pineapples that grow in varying sizes; some more common and interesting varieties are given below.
Red Spanish Pineapple
Smooth Cayenne Pineapple.
Smooth Cayenne' are smooth and it is the most commonly grown worldwide. Scientists have recently developed the new strain MD2 (From Costa Rica) that is sweeter than regular varieties, always grows to a uniform size and ripens evenly. In short, this strain was developed for a target market looking for extra sweet fruit, uniform in size and ripeness. This has changed the market for pineapple in Europe dramatically in the past years. This new MD2 is also known also as Golden Yellow. Currently, the MD2 represents about 70 per cent to 75 per cent of the EU market for pineapple and is priced at about 1.80 Euro to two Euro per kilogram which makes the variety about two times more valuable than the Smooth Cayenne
Prevents Constipation: As with a wide variety of other fruits, pineapple prevents constipation. It may also relieve constipation once you already have it. The main reason is because pineapple does contain fiber which helps with regulation.
Contains Several Nutrients: Apart from fiber, there are many other essential nutrients and vitamins that can be found in pineapple. This includes Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium, and Potassium.
Provide relief from cold and cough: Pineapple contains what is called bromelain, which is known to relieve or even stop cold and coughs altogether. The main reason is because it is anti-inflammatory and ultimately, it is known to help with the loosening of mucus.
It is used in the manufacture of pineapple jam, juice, wine and other processed finished products.
Strengthens Bones: Pineapples are also popular for their ability to build and maintain strong bones. This is because these fruits contain manganese, which is a trace mineral that your body needs to build bones and connective tissues. In fact, if you consume a cup of pineapple, you can already get 73 percent of your total body requirement for manganese.
PROCESSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PINEAPPLE
With an increase in the area of production, there are opportunities for value addition. The value added products can be avenues for the development of agribusiness both for the local and export markets.
The pineapple can be processed to:
Pineapple Jam: Pineapple jam is solid gel made from the fruit pulp or juice, sugar, and pectin. Jam is used as a spread and is also used in the baking and confectionery industry.
Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice is highly appreciated for its high nutritional value and its particular exotic taste. There is a high demand for this juice locally and by the tourists.
Vacuum Packed Fresh Pineapple: fresh cut pineapple is vacuum packed without any food preservative treatment. The vacuum packed fresh pineapple has to be marketed in a cool chain. It is characterized by a high nutritional value, natural taste, and a unique flavor. It is convenient for immediate consumption and compatible with emerging supermarket.
Pineapple in Syrup
Root fragility is a key element in understanding and making a success of pineapple growing. The root system is shallow, being mainly in the first 40 cm of the soil. The roots are extremely fragile and can only grow in loose, well-aerated soil. Any obstacle to their growth adversely affects plant development. Soils that are too gravelly are not very favorable and hinder root growth.
Pineapples are mostly planted during the raining season, in an alkaline soil. Silty soils and clayey soils are not recommended at all. Pineapple can stand soil with low mineral content if the nutrient requirements are met by fertilizer application. Soil acidity should be a factor in choice more than richness. Optimum cultivation is at a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5 although pineapple tolerates pH values of 3 to 7.5.
The plants are usually set out in twin rows or triple rows. The plants should be spaced at 25 to 30 cm intervals along the row with 30 to 4 0 cm between the rows. Plant densities can be within the range of 50,000 to 70,000 plants per hectare.
Fertilizer application should be plan on the basis of soil analysis.
Weeding: Pineapple grows slowly, especially in the first three or four months after the slips have been planted. Growth can be greatly slowed by competition from weeds. Yield losses can exceed 50% in extreme cases. Weeds may also serve as 'reservoirs' and reproduction sites for certain pests such as mealybugs, symphilid, nematodes, etc. Weed control is, therefore, essential and must be performed preventively to prevent their spread and growth.
Herbicides with residual action are recommended at planting to block the germination of weed seeds for as long as possible. Manual weeding is certainly the best solution but it must be rationalized according to its cost. It is the only way of weeding between the pineapple plants on the ridge. Chemical weed control can also be performed between ridges. In both cases, it is essential to act quickly before weeds go beyond a certain stage of growth.
Pest and diseases
The first four affect the plants during the vegetative cycle. The last three affect fruits approaching maturity.
When the plant is 8-9 months old it should be of sufficient mass to produce a good sized fruit. At this point, you can artificially induce flowering. This will make the whole farm flower and bear fruit at the same time after 1 month after induction, a flower bud arises out of the central ring of young leaves 3-4 months later the crops will be ready for harvest.
The final choice of harvest date should make it possible to harvest fruits close to maturity (sweet, fragrant and well-coloured) with no external or internal quality defects. Account should also be taken of the constraints involved in the organization of harvesting and transport.
The choice of harvest date is one of the most important and most delicate decisions to be made by a pineapple grower. Experience is determinant in this difficult exercise. However, several factors can guide the decision.
Handling the fruits
Post harvest handling of the fruits is equally important to ensure the food is safe for consumption. The fruits can suffer an injury during picking, transport and packing. This affects the appearance of the fruits and opens the way to pathogens that can cause serious deterioration.
The fruit should always be packed and refrigerated as fast as the facilities permit, ideally within 6 to 8 hours but never over a maximum of 18 hours after harvesting. In the most advanced and modern designs for packing house, the bins loaded with fruit from the fields are unloaded mechanically with lifters
World production and trade
Pineapple is the third most important tropical fruit in world production after banana and citrus. The processing of pineapple has made the fruit well known throughout the temperate developed world. Major pineapple products of international trade are canned slices, chunks, juice and fresh fruit
The pineapple represents about 20 percent of the world production of tropical fruits and about 70 percent of the pineapple is consumed fresh in the country of origin. Brazil, Thailand, Philippines, and China produce about 50 percent of the world production. Since the last 50 years, the world pineapple production has risen up by 400 per cent.
Pineapple production is expected to reach 18.7 million tons in 2014, representing 23% of the global harvest of tropical fruits. Asia-Pacific accounts for 46% of the total. However, most of this amount will go to the development and not the export of fresh fruit. The issuance of fresh pineapple is dominated by Latin America (Costa Rica) which produces 29% of this fruit in the world.
African pineapple harvest is expected to reach 16% of production. The FAO expects the harvest of pineapples to decrease in developed countries.
World imports of pineapple will also go up, namely 1.7% until 2014, up to 1.5 million tons. The figure accounts for 43% of all tropical fruits. The United States is the largest importer of fresh pineapple with a demand of 38% (586,000 tons) followed by the European Union (mostly Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, and France), Japan, Canada, Korea, and Singapore.
Costa Rican pineapple production doubled during the last ten years and Costa Rica became the largest supplier of the European Union.
Pineapple international markets since 1999 have increased due to public awareness of the high nutritional value of pineapple. Since 2000, it has increased by more than 20 percent per year, whereas previously was only at 10 percent. In 1999, the markets were around 1 million tons. Now the demand may reach to more than 5 million tons.
Nigeria is presently the 8th largest producer of the fruit in the world with a production capacity of 1,052,000 Metric tons. Almost all are consumed locally; the export market is yet to be exploited. With increasing demand for pineapple both locally and internationally, the products potential prospects are high for its production.
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