Shimla: Attempting to bring order to the chaotic apple trade by standardizing packaging is on test as the government introduces a universal 20 Kg pack even as there is apprehension about fetching the right prices just as onset of the fruit marketing gets underway.
Government agency Horticulture Produce Marketing Corp (HPMC) and HIMFED were directed to procure the universal standard carton that were specifically designed to package various sizes of apple and supply it to growers but the response has been far from encouraging.
Sources disclosed that few apple growers have come forward to buy these new cartons, which are said to be better in quality than the old ones and are even priced at the same level.
Speaking to Hill Post about the efforts made to introduce the new pack, Madan Chauhan, MD of HPMC says “The universal standard carton is being tried on a pilot basis and the initial response has been encouraging for all apple growers feel that standard packing should be the basis of any comparison in pricing the produce.”
However, the traders are happy picking up the older boxes that have margin to stuff more than 25 Kgs of fruit into one of them.
“Yesterday an over 25 Kg apple box fetched a price of Rs 3200/- in the Chandigarh market, claims Neeraj Chauhan, a fruit grower from Kotkhai.
With the fruit growers apprehensive about the new pack, Shakeel Mohammed, a trader from Kolkatta who buys his fruit from the markets here says, “much as one would like to have standard grading and packaging in the fruit trade but with growers stuffing in over 25 Kgs fruit in a box that otherwise is meant to have space for 20 Kgs, traders bid higher for the box with more fruit and distort the market conditions.”
Apple remains the main cash crop of the middle to higher hills economy and the horticulture department has projected a higher production of 2.5 crore boxes for the year, whereas last year the state produce was only 1.36 crore.