Shimla, Oct 7 (Calcutta Tube) The Commonwealth Games in New Delhi have been a bonanza for kiwi growers in Himachal Pradesh as the exotic fruit is much sought after among the foreign guests.
‘The demand has suddenly increased in Delhi. More and more orders have been placed with the kiwi growers in Himachal Pradesh,’ Naresh Dogra of Vijay Laxmi Fruit Traders, a commission agent based in Delhi’s Azadpur wholesale fruit market, told IANS Wednesday.
He said over telephone that most of the Indian kiwis are heading towards Commonwealth Games Village where the players are staying and upscale departmental stores and marts.
In the retail, it is selling between Rs.250 and Rs.300 a kg, Dogra added.
Himachal Pradesh’s mid-hills in Solan, Shimla, Sirmaur, Mandi and Kullu districts are ideally suited for kiwi cultivation.
As per horticulture department estimates, at least 200 farmers in the Kullu valley alone have taken up kiwi cultivation. Last year, its production in the state was 154 tonnes and this year the production is likely to be 50 percent more due to favourable weather.
‘The demand is more than supply, so the farmers are getting record prices. This year the crop is also bountiful. Every day, the farmers from this area are despatching 300 to 400 boxes of kiwi to Delhi as compared to 150 to 200 boxes last year,’ said Rajeev Begta, a grower near Kullu.
He said sensing profit, most of the commission agents have reached Kullu to procure the fruit directly and speedily from the growers.
The price of top quality kiwi at the Kullu wholesale fruit market was Rs.100-150 per kg Wednesday against last year’s Rs.60-100 per kg.
Sayeed Mohd, a commission agent at the Dhalli wholesale fruit market near Shimla, said: ‘Currently, the kiwis from Himachal Pradesh are meeting the requirement of Delhi. Once the Games is over, then the supply to Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Mumbai would begin.’
Sudhir Katiha, assistant project officer of the horticulture department, said the cultivation of kiwi in the state is picking up.
Its cultivation along with pomegranate, cherry and strawberry has been adopted by many growers for diversification from the traditional apple crop.
‘Since kiwi crop requires less chilling hours as compared to apple, its cultivation is more suitable in temperate regions and where the chilling hours are not static,’ he said.
The Hayward, Abbot, Allison and Bruno varieties of kiwi are cultivated on almost 128 hectares. Its cultivation begins in September-end and continues till mid of November.
Approximately 204,629 hectares of land in Himachal Pradesh is under horticulture cultivation, which yields approximately half a million tonnes of different kinds of fruit.
Apple is the state’s main fruit crop and is being grown in nine out of 12 districts.
In the mid-hills, the cultivation of olive, pecan and strawberry is also quite successful.