Himachal Pradesh sells 20 mn apple boxes

October 15th, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Oct 15 (IANS) The apple season in Himachal Pradesh is almost over with more than 20 million boxes having been transported out of the state so far.The season, which started nearly three months ago, will continue for a few weeks more.

“Almost two crore (20 million) cartons have been sent to various markets across the country,” horticulture department director Gurdev Singh told IANS Wednesday.

Each carton has 25 kg of apples, he said.

“More than 14 lakh (1.4 million) boxes of apples from the Chango, Ribba and Namgiya valleys (in Kinnaur district) and Hurling (in the Spiti subdivision) have been transported. This time we have estimated the total production in Kinnaur alone to be around 16.5 lakh (1.65 milion) boxes,” said the department’s deputy director S.S. Mehta.

This is slightly less than last year’s record two million cartons sent from Kinnaur district.

Singh said in the coming weeks, more than 2.5 million boxes of apples from the across the state would reach the markets.

However, with the arrival of the fruit from neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir, the demand for the produce from Himachal has come down, with prices too falling.

Said Ram Singh Negi, a trader at the wholesale fruit market in Solan, 55 km from the state capital: “Now a 25 kg box of royal apples, which was selling at Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,050 last month, has come down to around Rs.700.”

He attributed this to the arrival of apples from Kashmir.

Himachal Pradesh is known as the ‘apple bowl of the country’, with the fruit accounting for about 40 percent of the total area under fruit cultivation in the state.

More than 200,000 families are engaged in apple cultivation, 90 percent of them being small and marginal farmers with an average holding of less than 0.6 hectare.

Besides apples, other fruits such as pears, peaches, cherries and plums are the major commercial crops of the state.

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