By Wilfred Pilo
STEPPING into a simple wooden hut, which also serves as a fruit stall belonging to 48-year-old Zurina Aping at Kampung Meranek, you can’t help but notice all the hanging pineapples from its ceiling.
As you look further, more pineapples are seen stacked on a elongated wooden shelf at the stall at Kota Samarahan. Some of the pineapples were stacked from the ground and almost reached the waist level.
If there is such a thing as a specialised retail outlet meant for pineapple fruits, this could be the outskirt, rural village version of it.
“Yes. It is pineapple season now and we have more than usual today, although the harvest was not as lucrative as in the previous years. Pineapple planting is one of the main source of economic activites here,” Zurina told DayakDaily when met at her stall at Jalan Meranek last Saturday (Aug 10).
“Before, the villagers planted plenty of pineapples and during its season between July and September there are just too many. However, it is the planting has decreased, as many opted to plant oil palm,” she added.
Zurina lamented that farmers who still grow pineapples complaint that the fruit harvested this year are of inferior quality. She believed this could be caused by infertile soil.
“The farmers complaint and I heard them saying that there is a possibility the nutrients had slowly disappeared from the soil. Maybe drained by oil palm trees, as the roots spread out to look for nutrients,” she opined.
The quality of the pineapples had affected sales by as much as 50 per cent, said Zurina, who has been selling pineapples with her husband for the past 19 years.
The couple also planted pineapples before when the harvest was good but had stopped once the quality of the fruit had dropped. They opted to help farmers sell their pineapples instead.
“We can feel the pinch, making less money than before. The situation also worsened as nowadays, there are not many commuters passing Jalan Meranek following the completion of the Batang Samarahan Bridge.
“Development is good but sometimes it can affect people like us, she said.
At her stall, Zurina sells a few species of pineapples she identified as nenas paun, nenas morris, nenas 3-6, nenas Josephine, nenas madu Johor, nenas kelapa sawit and nenas MB2.
“For cooking, especially for ‘masak lemak’, people prefer to use nenas paun. The flesh from the fruit is compact but sweet for consumption.”
Due to the lower number of commuters and walk-in customers, Zurina said would rely on regular customers and those who orders in bulks.
“To meet my order demand, I have to find local farmers who still plant pineapples but it is getting harder now. The customers who ordered in bulks, sometimes they would go elsewhere when they know the problem we are facing despite incurring extra cost for them.
“It is harder to sustain the business here these days. The only forward is to diversify our products,” she said.
Zurina is selling her pineapple at RM5 each. Those buying between three to five pineapples would be charged RM10 instead.
“If you buy in bulks, the price will be different,” she said.
The pineapple seller has no intention of giving up her business. With the supply of pineapples getting less, she was thinking of selling vegetable produce at her stall as well.
“For as long as I am able to do business, there is nothing to stop me,” she said. — DayakDaily