Gampaha pineapple growers seek Govt assistance
Although legend has it that the ancient city of Nawala in Kotte was
famous for pineapples during the period of kings, the popularity
gradually decreased with the arrival of colonial rulers.
Due to the construction of several buildings, factories and highways
during the colonial era, many pineapple cultivators at Nawala had to
abandon their traditional cultivation. They found various other
employment in the construction field which helped them even to start
Nawala, which is located in close proximity to Sri Lanka's
administrative capital, Sri Jayawardanapura has now become a thickly
populated area and no one can see a single pineapple cultivation plot in
This traditional cultivation, which has a history of over six
centuries, has now become the livelihood of nearly 500 families in the
areas of Gampaha, Kotugoda, Giriulla, Udugampola Meerigama, Kirindiwela,
Kuliyapitiya, Radawana, Nittambuwa and Pasyala.
The Sunday Observer last week visited several pineapple cultivations
at Gampaha and Meerigama to see the progress of the cultivations. Some
cultivators were very happy as both retail traders and wholesale traders
visit their plots very often to buy pineapple.
Fifty-six-year old M.R. Piyasena, a father of three at Gampaha said
he started pineapple cultivation at the age of 16. He had studied up to
grade five and helped his late father's pineapple cultivation.
According to Piyasena, one of his sons had joined the Sri Lanka Army
as a soldier and his other son and the daughter helps his pineapple
He said he had a two-acre pineapple cultivation. He cultivates
pineapple as an inter-crop within pepper and banana.
Sumanwathi Peris of Meerigama said she earns about Rs. 30,000 from
pineapple cultivation. She said the price of pineapple had dropped these
days due to the good harvest.
Asked whether she needed the Government's help to expand her
cultivation, she said the Government should provide them with fertilizer
at reduced price.
She doesn't like to have bank loans to expand the cultivation since
she was not in a position to pay high interests as they earn little
money from their business.
A large scale pineapple cultivator Martin Gunadasa of Kirindiwela
said he had five acres of pineapple cultivation. "I plant pineapple
along with bananas, coconuts and vegetables to have more income during
He too did not need any help from the Government to expand his
pineapple cultivation, but requested authorities to send hoteliers from
Colombo to purchase their harvest.
"There are lot of pineapple gardens in the area, but all of us are
selling our harvest to private businessmen who come to our doorstep to
purchase the harvest at cheap rates".
He said if hoteliers visit our plantation, they will be able to sell
them at higher prices.
Although pineapple plantations are located in the Gampaha and
surrounding areas, pineapple traders are doing their business
cultivation at Imbulgoda, Balummahara and Mudungoda areas which are
along the Kandy Road.
A middle aged pineapple businessman M.A Ranjith of Imbulgoda said he
couldn't survive with only the income from pineapple business.
He said unlike in the past many vehicles coming from Kandy turn from
Balummahara Junction and only a few vehicles pass in front of their
He said over 400 families depend on pineapple business and the
Government's assistance is highly needed to expand their business
His proposal is that the Sri Lanka Tourist Board and other private
company tour groups stop at their stalls to enable tourists to buy
A large scale pineapple exporter, H.G.S Pushpakaumara of Rammuthugala
said he visits pineapple plantations and purchase them from cultivators.
"In addition to my local business, I also export pineapple to Dubai
and earn a sufficient income.
A pineapple trader S. P. Premadasa said he too sold pineapple at a
stall in Imbulgoda and now cut them into pieces and sell them at the
village fair and nearby schools.
He said almost all pineapple traders are very poor and need money to
construct their houses and the Government must help them protect this
Pix: Vipula Amarasinghe