Himachal’s lean apple harvest ends with 2 crore boxes

Shimla: The apple season in Himachal Pradesh has almost come to an end with the total production around 20 percent less than the normal of 2.50 crore boxes of 20 kg each, an official said here today.

“The apple season has been over in the state with the harvesting of 2.04 crore boxes,” says Horticulture Director Gurdev Singh.

He said this season the production was higher than the last year’s production of 1.4 crore boxes.

“The prices were comparatively higher than the last year, when the state had lean crop,” he added.

Photo by Sandeep Singha

Traders in the Dhalli apple market near here said the apple stored by some of the farmers is coming to the market.

“We are daily getting 100 to 150 boxes of apples against 1,000 boxes a day. Most of the apple is now coming from Kinnaur district only,” apple supplier Pratap Chauhan said.

Kinnauri apples, known across the world for their natural sweetness, colour and juiciness, normally start arriving in the market in October when the apple crop ends in other parts of the state, said the traders.

Agro commodities trading house Adani Agrifresh has procured 16,300 tonnes of apples in the state this season.

“This year we procured 16,300 tonnes against the target of 22,000 tonnes,” Deputy General Manager Sanjay Mahajan said.

Last year, the company procured 6,000 tonnes.

Apple auction underway at Shimla (Dhalli) market

Mahajan said most of the apple crop was undersize and even the fruit had not attained the true colour this season.

Horticulture department officials say scanty rainfall in the apple belts of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Sirmaur and Chamba districts when the fruit was in development stage in May and June hit the crop badly.

They said later the prolonged heavy rain during the monsoon caused heavy premature dropping of fruit.

Records of the horticulture department say that the apple production in the state keeps on fluctuating in the past four years.

The production was 8.92 lakh tonne in 2010 against 2.8 lakh tonne in 2009. Then it dropped to 2.75 lakh tonne in 2011. This year, it was near normal at 4 lakh tonne.

According to the horticulture department, the per hectare yield of apple in the state ranged from five to seven tonne, compared to 50 to 60 tonne in European countries.

Apples are the mainstay of the state’s economy, with more than 200,000 families engaged in its cultivation of the fruit. The apple industry is worth over Rs.2,000 crore.

by Vishal Gulati (IANS)

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