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Rains upset applecart of Himachal Pradesh growers

Shimla, Aug 29 (Calcutta Tube) Rains and floods in north India have put a spanner on the transportation of apples from Himachal Pradesh, leading to a crash in the fruit’s prices.

[ReviewAZON asin=”0823416690″ display=”inlinepost”]Traders here said prices had been pushed 35 to 45 percent lower than what they received last year.

Gian Singh Chandel, chairman of the apple market committee at Dhalli near here, told IANS that prices crashed last week across the wholesale markets in the state.

He attributed the fall in prices to less transportation of apples to Azadpur, the Asia’s largest wholesale fruit market in Delhi that caters to the markets mainly in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Lucknow, and major towns of Punjab and Haryana.

‘The growers are a little bit hesitant to take the produce to Delhi, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Karnal, fearing flood-like situation there. They are preferring to sell their produce in nearby markets in the state where they are not getting handsome prices,’ he added.

A superior grade Royal Delicious was fetching Rs.250 to Rs.850 a box of 20 kg in the Dhalli market Saturday, whereas Royal Red and Golden were getting Rs.250 to Rs.650 and Rs.250 to Rs.300 per crate respectively.

Gopal Mehta, a prominent apple grower in upper Shimla, said: ‘The prices have fallen mainly due to apple glut in the local markets. But it’s a temporary phase, will surely bounce back.’

According to him, the farmers were getting Rs.300 to Rs.400 per box less last week as compared to the corresponding period last year, when the production was almost half- 1.4 crore boxes.

Officials of the horticulture department said over 600,000 boxes on an average are reaching the markets everyday these days, whereas it was 200,000 to 300,000 boxes almost a fortnight ago.

So far more than 1.6 crore standard boxes have been sent to various markets as compared to only 91 lakh boxes in 2007 when the state recorded the highest-ever production of 2.97 crore boxes till date.

Principal Secretary (Horticulture) V.C. Pharka said: ‘We are advising the farmers not to harvest the crop in haste as apple gut is mainly responsible for fall in prices.’

Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 percent of the produce going to the domestic markets across the country.

Its apple industry is worth about Rs.1,500 crore (Rs.15 billion).

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