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Is organic pineapple farming being a good choice for Malaysian farmers?

The market for organic pineapple is still a niche market. In general, there is not yet been controlled by big companies. Organically grown pineapple become popular today because of premium price on the market compared to conventional varieties. Hence, the shift from conventional to organic production might be an opportunity for small‐scale farmers to reap higher returns from their investments. However, this switching requires costly adjustments to the land.


A few studies have recently found that certified organic agriculture is more profitable than conventional agriculture in developing countries, due to the higher price farmers receive for their product (e.g. Bolwig et al., 2009; Maertens and Swinnen, 2009). Rieple and Singh (2010) have shown that organic production adds value throughout the production and processing of cotton. Other studies have explained the size of the premium and the willingness to pay a premium for organic products (e.g. Teisl et al., 2002; Nimon and Beghin, 1999; Bjorner et al., 2004).


The quality problem is the main challenge in dealing with pineapple organic production. Below is the minimum requirement for organic production in the field:

-Rainfall of 650 mm is relatively evenly distributed over the year;

-Lesion nematode is absent

-A consistent approach to control ants and mealybugs;

- Incidence of Phytophthora heart and root rot is low

-18-month fallow is usual practice.

-Two-year conversion buffer time to organic practice.

-Conversion from conventional to organic production must be affected using permitted materials and practices.

-All organic inputs must be of certified plant, animal, microbial or mineral origin and derived by physical, enzymatic or microbial processes.

-Products based on polyethylene polypropylene or polycarbonate are allowed for protective structures, plastic mulches, insect nettings that must be removed after use (DoA, SA, 2006).


Potential of low yield is commonly found in most organic crops farming. For organic pineapple farming, the low yield can be obtained whether in terms of fruit yields or ratoon (suckers) compared to conventional. For example, in the Eastern Cape Region of South Africa in 2005/2006, the conventional and organic fruit yields were 73 t/ha and 71 t/ha respectively. For sucker’s harvest in 2007/2008, the conventional and organic fruit yields were 47 t/ha and 21 t/ha, respectively (Murray & Manicom, 2007).


This is because even organic fertilizer is effective but low concentration and slow-release properties make it difficult to fulfill well in advance of any plant shortages. In addition, A high concentration nitrogen source remains the most problematical in organic pineapple nutrition.


As a conclusion, the pineapple organic farming is a good transition for our farmers. However, we should support and help them to prepare themselves in facing organic farming challenges with knowledge.


HOW TO EMPOWER OUR FARMERS WITH EXCELLENCE KNOWLEDGE IN PINEAPPLE ORGANIC FARMING?

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References:

Lobo, M. G., & Yahia, E. (2017). Biology and postharvest physiology of pineapple. Handbook of Pineapple Technology: Production, Postharvest Science, Processing and Nutrition, 39-61.

Murray, D. N. A., & Manicom, B. (2007, November). Development of an organic pineapple cultivation strategy for the Eastern Cape Region of South Africa. In VI International Pineapple Symposium 822 (pp. 107-116).

Bolwig, S., Gibbon, P., and Jones, S. (2009). The economics of smallholder organic contract farming in tropical Africa. World Development 37(6): 1094‐1104

Maertens, M., and Swinnen, J.F. (2009). Trade, Standards, and Poverty: Evidence from Senegal. World Development 37 (1): 161–178.

Rieple, A., and Singh, R. (2010). A value chain analysis of the organic cotton industry: The case of UK retailers and Indian suppliers, forthcoming in Ecological Economics.

Teisl, M., Roe, B., and Hicks, R.L. (2002). Can Eco‐Labels Tune a Market. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 43: 339‐359.

Bjorner T., Hansen, L., and Russell, C.S. (2004). Environmental Labeling and Consumers’ Choice ‐ An Empirical Analysis of the Effect of the Nordic Swan. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 47(3): 411‐434


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