An apple a day to hit your monthly budget

July 24th, 2011 - 4:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla/Kullu, July 24 (IANS) A box of Royal Delicious costed Rs.1,100 last year. But thanks to this year’s dismal production, the same box costs a staggering Rs.2,200 in wholesale markets — bitter news for those who relish the fruit and a sweet one for growers.

Apple growers in Himachal Pradesh are upbeat as they are getting record prices this season. Trade representatives say good quality apples have been priced at a double rate this year as compared to the last year.

“A 20 kg box of superior quality Royal Delicious is fetching between Rs.2,200 and Rs.2,300 in Delhi’s Azadpur market, against Rs.1,100 per box last year,” Gian Singh Chandel, chairman of the Dhalli apple market committee near Shimla, told IANS.

He said the arrival of the superior qualities have just started from mid-hills of Shimla, Kullu and Mandi districts and by mid of next month, the harvesting would pick up.

Currently, the fruit wholesale markets in the state are flooded with early apple varieties like Red Gold, Red June and Tydeman’s Early Worcester.

Naresh Chauhan, an apple farmer from Kullu district, said: “The harvesting has just begun in some areas but it will gain momentum as the apples are getting remunerative prices.”

He said since the crop is lean this year, the buyers are directly procuring the apples from the growers.

The price of Rs.2,200 per box of Royal Delicious, Red Chief and Super Chief is quite good, Chauhan added.

According to official estimates, this year’s apple production would be around 22.5 million boxes — about 50 percent less than last year’s bumper production of 44.5 million boxes.

But experts believe this year’s fruit would be more crisp, crunchy and juicy as there is sufficient moisture in the soil that would help the plant get sufficient nutrients.

Usman Shaikh, a Pune-based trader, said: “We are daily procuring 500 boxes from Dhalli against the requirement of 1,000. The prices are of course quite high but the quality of fruit is marvellous.”

Estimates of the horticulture department say so far over 125,000 crates of apples have been dispatched to various markets from the state as compared to 165,000 last year.

However, the world-famous delicious apples from Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts would start arriving by October when the harvesting from other areas is almost over.

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

The state’s apple economy is pegged around Rs.1,500 crore, with Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba districts being the hubs.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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