Shimla: Apple orchard owners are a worried lot at the start of harvest for the wholesale prices have failed to pick up as availability of imported fruit in metropolitan markets has failed to muster demand for home grown produce.
Orchard owner Ranvir Chauhan says, â€œCompared to last year, apples are not even fetching half the prices at the wholesale markets.â€
Chet Ram, who is involved in the fruit auctioning process at Shimla marketing yard, says that a 20 Kg good quality royal delicious apple box is fetching a price range of Rs 700 â€“ 1100 in the wholesale market. In the corresponding period last year it was quoting between Rs 1800-2200, he said.
He further added that demand was home grown apples was low because imported apples were available in all major markets of Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.
With imported apple available at between Rs 80 to Rs 140 per Kg at these major consuming markets, there are few traders who have come here to fruit this year. Low demand has impacted the price in the wholesale market here, he added.
Despite many of the fruit growing belts having suffered hail and storm damage, the horticulture department is expecting a bumper harvest with production estimated to cross the 2 crore boxes mark.
With the prices remaining depressed, Chauhan, a marginal farmer, is worried whether at the end of the harvest he would be able to make an income to pull the year through.
There is an acute labour shortage prevailing in my village, he says. The packaging material costs have increased substantially and a hike in diesel prices has increased the freight prices for us, he adds.
Apples harvest in lower altitude belts has picked up and is arriving in large quantities at the Dhalli, Shimla auction yards.