Himachal apple production set to plunge

Shimla : Already more than half of Himachal Pradesh’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 state’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 state’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 state’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.

In a 20 year career published widely. He has worked for the BBC, AFP, The Statesman, IANS and the Business Standard . Known for his hard hitting writing and occasional off-beat stories. He lives in Shimla.

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