Prices of better quality Himachal apples firming up

Shimla, Aug 1 (IANS) Prices of superior grade apples are slowly bouncing back, much to relief to the growers in Himachal Pradesh.

‘The market has started looking up with prices of superior grade of apples increased by Rs.200 to Rs.300 a box,’ said Gian Singh Chandel, chairman of the apple market committee at Dhalli near here.

‘The superior grade of Royal Delicious is getting Rs.1,300 to Rs.1,400 per box against Rs.1,100 per box last week in the Dhalli market. Similarly, Rich-a-Red is getting around Rs.1,200 per box against Rs.1,000 last week.’

Apple prices had crashed within weeks of their arrival early this month.

Chandel attributed the rise in prices to the arrival of quality fruit in the markets.

‘Earlier, the fruit was not fully mature and ripened. It was harvested in haste. Now, the fruit available is of optimum size and true colour,’ he added.

According to him, most of the fruit is heading towards Azadpur, the Asia’s largest wholesale fruit market in Delhi, where a crate of superior grade apples is selling Rs.200 to Rs.300 more than Dhalli.

Over 33 lakh boxes of apples have been transported out of the state, Horticulture Director Gurdev Singh told IANS here Sunday.

He said over 200,000 boxes on an average were being despatched everyday.

The best quality apples in the country from the Chango, Ribba and Namgiya valleys of Kinnaur and Hurling in Lahaul and Spiti would start arriving by end of next month, he added.

Estimates of the horticulture department say state’s apple production this season is set to touch a record three crore boxes. Last year, the production was almost half – 1.4 crore boxes.

Sayeed Mazid, a trader from Hyderabad who is camping in Narkanda to procure apples directly from the growers, said: ‘Now the quality fruit has arrived. This year the supply is much more than demand. So the prices are also on the comfortable side – almost half than last year’s. We have started procuring 15,000 to 20,000 crates daily.’

Apple is the main fruit crop of the state and is being grown in nine out of 12 districts. Apple accounts for about 40 percent of the total area under all fruit crop cultivation in the state.

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