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Himachal Pradesh Apple Sellers Struggle As Prices Crash By 50%

The apple economy in Himachal Pradesh is worth Rs 5,500 crore. The horticulture department estimates more than three crore apple boxes to hit the markets but the prices will continue to fluctuate depending upon the variety, their arrival and also, buying trends.

Himachal Pradesh Apple Sellers Struggle As Prices Crash By 50%
Himachal apple prices crash by more than 50 percent | Pradeep Kumar
Himachal Pradesh Apple Sellers Struggle As Prices Crash By 50%
outlookindia.com
2021-08-18T20:54:39+05:30

Ahead of the arrival of the popular Kashmir apple, the price of the Himachal red apples have crashed leading to a glut in Shimla’s wholesale apple markets.

The early varieties which usually sell at Rs 2,400 for a 20 kg box are now fetching the apple-sellers only Rs 1,600-1,700, registering close to a 50% crash.

The apples which are lower in quality are selling at only Rs 1,200 per box. The harvest season is almost at a peak and the orchardists are in no mood to celebrate the huge produce.

“The markets are doing down each day. I sold my best apples at Rs 1300 – a price almost 40-45% lower than a week ago. My uncle was selling his apple produce at Rs 2400 in the first lot of production but has ended up selling at Rs1600-1700 recently“ Ankur Chauhan, an orchardist at Kotkhai, said.

He doesn't rule out a slump to continue even if a few pins hope on the festival season of Raksha Bandhan and Jamanasthmi.

Already affected by COVID, the market has hit the orchardists further.

Naresh Sharma, Chairman, Agricultural Produce and Marketing Board, Shimla admits that the prices in the market at Dhali (Shimla) and few other places have dropped. Partly, the prices have been affected by hail which has damaged the shape of the apples leading to fast rejection in the market.

"But the best apples which are red and have good size, are still selling in the range of Rs2200 to 2400. The problem is only with the crop hit by the hail or drought conditions” he said.

The apple economy in Himachal Pradesh is almost worth Rs 5,500 crore. The horticulture department estimates more than three crore apple boxes to hit the markets but the prices will continue to fluctuate depending upon the variety, their arrival and also, buying trends.

 But few growers believe that the big buyers and arthiyas (commission agents) also dictate and influence the market buying, which eventually takes the growers by surprise about the prices.

“Himachal Pradesh apple growers suffer because of the lack of apple orchards. My father, Narinder Bragta, who was horticulture minister twice, had strived hard for creating a cold chain Adani group came to Himachal Pradesh, because of his efforts and set up three cold storages. We need to scale this facility immediately. This is the only way we can stabilize prices” Chetan Bragta, an orchardist said.

The price crash hits growers on two fronts – first, due to heavy cost inputs, fungicides (sprays), packaging material, labour and transportation, the returns have thinned. Secondly, it has spoilt the market for some of the exotic varieties cultivated by the orchardists.

Around 10-15 per cent apple growers send their produce directly for export or to corporate buyers and are exempt from the current price hit.

Himachal apples hit the markets much ahead of Kashmir apples. The high-grade Kinnaur apples reach the markets between October-November.

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