Shimla : Already more than half of Himachal Pradeshâ€™s apple harvest has reached the market and it is becoming clear that the state could end up having one of the poorest crops in many years.
Last year the hill state had the highest output of 4.46 crore boxes(44.6 million boxes).And this year the production has barely touched 500,000(5 million) boxes.
So when the apple harvest ends about a month from now Himachal may only produce Rs 1 crore(10 million) boxes say many.
So dismal is the scenario that the stateâ€™s horticulture department officials are tight lipped about the entire output this time, as they had forecast a far higher output before the harvest began in July.
I have just travelled through many areas of Shimla district the apple heartland which accounts for around 80 per cent of the entire stateâ€™s production, instead of the frenzied harvest activity there was little activity in the terraced orchards.
In late August when the harvest peaks the winding roads are normally choked with apple laden trucks,but this time the roads looked oddly empty but for a few trucks and pick up vehicles.
Farmers say the fruit in many parts of the district is already battered by hailstorms earlier in the spring and summer which has lowered the market value of the fruit.
But since the production is so less farmers are fetching good prices as compared to last year when it was a bumper crop and returns were low.
But the apple crop in the tribal Kinnaur district is relatively better even though this district accounts for around 10 per cent of the entire stateâ€™s production.The crop here is also hail damage free.The district could produce 150,000 (1.5 million) boxes this time say many optimists.