Apple production fluctuates, imports steadily rise

Shimla: Apple production in the apple producing states of the country may have fluctuated over the last three years, but imports are steadily rising and pose a threat to marketing of the domestic crop.

Responding to a Rajya Sabha question by parliamentarian Viplove Thakur, minister of state with charge of agriculture and food processing industries, Harish Rawat last week in a written reply disclosed that while the country apple production and exports fluctuated over the last three years, imports have been steadily rising.

Rawat citing figures from Kolkata based Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics in response to the parliamentarian from Himachal stated that the country imported 71,204 tons of apples in 2008-09 which was worth Rs 322.44 crore, in 2009-10 imports rose to 98,895 tons which was valued at Rs 434.60 crore and in 2010-11 despite a heavy production in the country, 134,577 tons of apples were imported at a value of Rs 622.67 crore.

For the same period export details presented in the house was that in 2008-09 the country exported 44,552 metric tons of apples which was worth Rs 52.22 crore, in 2009-10 exports fell to 26,880 tons that was worth Rs 32.10 Cr and in 2010-11, exports increased to 47,076 tons which was worth Rs 59.75 crore.

Referring to figures collected by National Horticulture Board, the minister said that apple production in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir was 1985.1 thousand metric tons in 2008-09, it fell to 1777 thousand tons in 2009-10 and increased to 2886 thousand tons in 2010-11.

Another thing the data placed in the Rajya Sabha revealed was the low value per metric ton of apples exported vis a vis the high price for the apples imported.

Whereas the apples exported in 2008-09 were priced at Rs 11,721 per ton , it was Rs 11,942 in 2009-10 and Rs 12,692 in 2010-11; the apples imported carried a price tag of Rs 45,284 per ton in 2008-09, it was Rs 43,946 in 2009-10 and Rs 46,269 in 2010-11.

Regarding a question about low productivity in apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh, the minister cited the state government reports that about 13 percent (approximately 12,000 hectares) of orchards have old and senile trees standing on them causing some decline in productivity.

Under Horticulture Mission, 50 percent of subsidy to a maximum of Rs 15,000 limited to 2 hectares per beneficiary is being provided by the centre for rejuvenation or replacement of senile plantations, said the minister.

Besides the Himachal Pradesh government in 2010-11 has separately launched a Rs 80 ‘Apple Rejuvenation Project for replanting 5000 hectares over a five year period with high yielding improve varieties, he said.

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