Himachal likely to produce 30 million boxes of apple

Himachal Pradesh, the country’s prominent fruit basket, is likely to produce 30 million boxes of apples this season and 68,000 trucks are required for their transportation to other states, an official said on Friday.

In this season, the production of about 30 million boxes of apple – approximately five-six lakh metric tonnes – is expected and more production is in the high altitude areas, state Horticulture Secretary Amitabh Awasthi apprised Governor Bandaru Dattatraya here.

He said about 68,000 trucks would be needed for transportation of crops while there would be more pressure in August and September and at that time about 75,000 trucks would be required.

All arrangements are being made to arrange the trucks and to make the transportation process smooth, he said.

The Governor emphasised the need to further strengthen the cold chains so that fruit growers and farmers could get remunerative prices of their produce.

He advised them to develop the cold chains in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.

On shortage of labourers, particularly from Nepal, with the imposition of lockdown, the Governor said the labourers could be shifted from non-apple growing regions to ensure timely harvesting and transportation of the apple crop.

Himachal Pradesh’s fruit economy of Rs 4,000-crore largely banks on ‘sturdy’ labourers from Nepal who make their efforts in farms fruitful.

This time a majority of labourers are giving the orchards a miss owing to the coronavirus pandemic even as the harvesting of apples is going to gain momentum by mid of July.

Apple growers told IANS that their business, which alone constitutes 89 per cent of the total fruit economy, is not as fruitful this time as the Nepalese labourers, the backbone of Himachal’s apple industry for more than six decades, have not returned to the state after their winter vacation owing to the pandemic scare.

They stare at huge losses owing to transport and market related problems at the peak season for harvesting their crop.

Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s major apple producing regions, with more than 90 per cent of the produce going to the domestic market.

As per the state Horticulture Department, last year there was a record harvest of about 40 million boxes.

Agro commodities trading house Adani Agrifresh has targeted to procure 23,000 tonnes of apples this season.

Besides Adani, other prominent private trading houses like CONCOR, Reliance Fresh, Mother Dairy, Big Basket and Dev Bhoomi are also procuring apples.