Himachal apple concentrate production hit

October 11th, 2009 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Oct 11 (IANS) The decline in apple cultivation in Himachal Pradesh has left apple concentrate production by the state’s horticulture department high and dry.
The total apple production this season will be around 18 million boxes of 25 kg each, considerably less than last year’s 26 million crates, Horticulture Minister Narender Bragta said.

“The overall decline in the production of apples will also hit the production of its concentrate by the Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corp (HPMC). So far, only 700 tonnes of apples have been procured. Last year, 35,000 tonnes of apples had been procured by this time,” Bragta told IANS.

The HPMC procures apples for making concentrate that is used for fruit juices and drinks.

“The apple season, though much delayed, is almost over. Right now, the majority of the crop is coming from Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts. By the end of this month, the season will be over,” he said.

Leading food and beverage companies like Parle Agro, Godrej Industries Foods Division, Nestle and Mohan Meakins Ltd regularly buy the apple concentrate from the HPMC.

“Since the procurement of apples is low, the production of concentrate would also be hit. We are not able to fulfil the demand of beverage companies during summer when the demand for juices increases considerably,” HPMC executive director Mohan Chauhan said.

Parle last year procured 600 tonnes of apple juice concentrate from the HPMC.

Bragta said this year the high prices of apples in the market also discouraged farmers from selling to the HPMC.

“Throughout the season, the farmers got record prices. The shortfall in production has made the business profitable. The farmers preferred to sell the crop in the market rather than sell it to the HPMC. So the HPMC procurement declined,” he said.

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 area under the apple crop has increased to 94,726 hectares in 2007-08 from 400 hectares in 1960-61.

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

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