Shimla: Assessing a loss of Rs 700 crores to the fruit growerâ€™s community, Communist Party of India (Marxists) has taken the government to task over mismanagement of the apple harvest, saying that the authorities let down the farmers at a time when black marketers made a killing.
Sanjay Chauhan, a CPI (M) Kishan Sabha member, said that the government besides under assessing the crop production failed in providing packaging material on time and were grossly deficient in meeting the transportation requirements of the record produce.
â€œFor a crop that is likely to exceed 3.5 crore boxes, the highest ever, on an average a farmer lost about Rs 200/- per box because of the chaotic post harvest arrangements for marketing the produce,â€ said Chauhan.
Government agencies HPMC and HIMFED, mandated with supplying packaging material were able to only meet 2 percent of the requirements, says Chauhan, leaving the hapless farmers at the mercy of a cartel of corrugated carton and paper tray manufacturers, who at places even charged a premium of over 100 percent of their selling price.
Demanding that farmers be compensated, he adds, bad roads and shortages of trucks, only added salt to injury. For a government declared freight of Rs 30 from a destination, some growers paid upto Rs 120 per box of apple for marketing the produce.
Tikender Panwar, CPI(M) state member, added government by proposing to make vermin compost fertilizer out of rotten apples had admitted to failure of the market intervention scheme (MIS).
While Chauhan puts the overall losses over timely lifting of apples procured under MIS at Rs 30 crore, Panwar says the government needs to lift the rotting stocks of apples from roadsides as they were becoming a source of pollution.