Himachal’s apples - 70 percent less yield

November 1st, 2011 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Nov 1 (IANS) With the apple season almost over in Himachal Pradesh, the overall apple production was just 30 percent of last year’s bumper harvest, officials said here Tuesday.

“The apple season is almost over in Shimla, Mandi, Kullu and Chamba districts. Now a small quantity of crop is left in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts,” said horticulture Director Gurdev Singh.

Till date 1.22 crore boxes of 20 kg each have been transported out of the state, he said.

“In the next few weeks, around 15 lakh boxes will be dispatched. The total output is not likely to cross 1.40 crore boxes, 69 percent less than last year’s bumper production of 4.46 crore boxes,” he stated.

The hill state is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 percent of the produce going to the domestic market.

“Not more than 10 percent of the total crop is left in the district. Farmers stopped harvesting during Diwali as the prices of Himachali apples fell sharply after the arrival of the apples from New Zealand,” said a farmer.

Kinnaur-based horticulture Development Officer Jagat Negi said the season will continue for another week or so.

“Against the bumper production of over 29 lakh (2.9 mn) boxes last year, this year it was just around 18 lakh (1.8 mn) crates,” he noted.

This season, however, has been a blessing in disguise for cultivators who say the fruit’s prices remained high throughout northern India.

“Apple prices were at a significant high throughout the season due to its short supply. The prices remained almost constant throughout the season - almost 35 to 45 percent higher than last year,” Kanwar Dayal Krishan Singh, a prominent apple grower in upper Shimla, told IANS.

“The price of undersized apples is almost Rs.500 per box more than last year,” he added.

Chairman of the Dhalli apple market committee Gian Singh Chandel said a 20 kg box of top quality Royal Delicious fetched between Rs.2,200 and Rs.2,300 in Delhi’s Azadpur market, against Rs.1,100 per box last year.

This season, he said, only a few farmers went to the Delhi and Chandigarh wholesale markets and they got good prices within the state.

Gurdev Singh blamed adverse weather for the reduced output.

“An extended winter when the apple crop was in the blooming stage - a period when flowers start to blossom - and a fury of hail storms that followed when the crop was maturing, have severely affected the production,” he said.

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 previous record yield of 2.6 crore boxes was in 2007 which slipped to 1.4 crore boxes in 2009.

In 1999, the state recorded a production of 98 lakh crates, the lowest in the past 12 years.

Besides apples, fruits like cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, kiwi, strawberry, olives, almonds and plums are the major commercial crops of the state. Their production also dipped due to hostile weather.

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