Apples from China, Australia flood India’s fruit bowl

May 16th, 2009 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, May 16 (IANS) Famous for its delicious apples, Himachal Pradesh itself is now flooded with imported varieties of the fruit. Chinese and Australian apples, known for their natural sweetness, colour and succulence, are selling well in the state, often referred to as India’s ‘fruit bowl’.

“The demand for imported apples is quite good as the local varieties are yet to hit the markets,” said Jagdish Gupta, a wholesale fruit seller at Sanjauli near here.

“Every day, we sell 30-40 cartons, each 25 kg, of Chinese and Australian apples. Buyers are mostly hoteliers and caterers. We get the Chinese apples from the Delhi and Chandigarh markets,” Gupta told IANS.

Subhash Gupta, another seller, said the price of the Chinese Red Fuji variety and Australian Granny Smith at the Sanjauli wholesale fruit market ranged between Rs.3,000 and Rs.3,500 per 25-kg box.

However, traders said, the demand for imported apples would invariably fall with the arrival of the local produce, which will also lead to prices falling.

“With the arrival of the apple crop from the hills by July, demand for the Chinese ones will reduce drastically,” Subhash Gupta added. “In the retail market, it’s selling at Rs.150-Rs.200 per kilogram and buyers are mostly tourists.”

The Red Fuji variety starts arriving in India at the beginning of April, and is avaliable till November-end. “Sellers prefer it because of its 10-month-long shelf life,” said S.P. Bhardwaj, joint director at the Solan-based Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry.

Himachal’s own apple crop, Bhardwaj said, is expected to be good this year. “We are expecting a good produce because of favourable climatic conditions in the flowering season (March-April). Field reports indicate a good production.”

According to him, regular snow in high-altitude areas and rain in the mid-hills in the past three months have increased the moisture content in the soil, brightening the prospects of a bumper crop.

“There are reports of some damage to fruit crop in the mid-hills (up to 6,500 feet) due to abrupt fall in temperature, but it is not to a large extent. Only old plantations were affected in some areas,” Bhardwaj said.

Harvesting will begin in July and continue till October.

Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 200,000 families engaged in the cultivation of the fruit.

The state had produced 25.5 million crates of apples in 2007-08, though the maximum output - of 28.6 million crates - was recorded in 2006-07.

Besides apples, other fruits like cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, kiwi, strawberry, olive, almonds and plums are the major commercial crops of the state.

The economy of the hill state is highly dependent on horticulture, apart from hydroelectric power and tourism, with the annual fruit industry being worth about Rs.2,000 crore.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at

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