Govt apathy increases problems as apple production to touch 3.8 cr boxes

Shimla: Apple crop is set to break all past records in Himachal Pradesh with production crossing 3.85 crore boxes during the current marketing season of June to October, officials said on Sunday.


Apple from tribal Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts is yet to hit the market and this year the production in twin tribal districts is expected to cross 40 lakh boxes as compared to 20 to 25 lakh boxes during the previous years.

The production was about 90 lakh boxes more than the highest production of 2.67 crore standard boxes in 2007 and almost three times more than the 1.30 crore boxes produced in 2009.

About three crore boxes had already been sent to various markets across the country while 90 lakh to one crore boxes were yet to be sent to the market.

About 40 lakh boxes were stranded in Jubbal-Kotkhai areas due to a massive landslide on Shimla-Jubbal road near Gumma, 50 km from Shimla. The road was closed on Saturday evening as a 200-metre stretch of the road was washed away and hundreds of apple-laden trucks got stuck en route.

Apple from tribal Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts was yet to hit the market and this year the production in twin tribal districts was expected to cross 40 lakh boxes as compared to 20 to 25 lakh boxes during the previous years.

The government agencies sent about 70,000 tonnes of apple under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for processing but due to lack of storage capacity, a large quantity of apple was rotting.

A record apple crop coupled with heavy rains causing numerous road breaches in the apple belt, especially in Shimla district, hampered transportation of the fruit.

While substantial quantity of apple was sent to hitherto unexplored markets in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, some big agri-business companies like Adani and Reliance also directly purchased apple from the growers.

Meanwhile the government has totally failed in addressing issues of the apple fruit growers regarding the bumper crop in the state. The conditions of roads in the apple belt including the NH-22 on which majority of the apple is transported is in shambles and would have put any responsible government to shame. Truckers and small vehicle owners are over charging freight for transporting boxes and the government has turned a blind eye towards this practice.

Condition of state highways and interior roads is no better either as people are being forced to pay manifolds to send their produce at exhorbant rates.

The Horticulture Ministry which is responsible for smooth operations have completely botched up the apple season this year. There is an acute shortage of apple cartons and trays and these are being sold in black market at higher prices.

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3 Responses to "Govt apathy increases problems as apple production to touch 3.8 cr boxes"

  1. Kamal Sharma   September 26, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Some one will have to disturb the sleep of this horticulture minister. He seems to have been sleeping for long now. SHAME!

    And why do we tolerate apathetic office bearers in the government? Don’t we have a provision to get rid of these incompetent ministers?

    • NITYIN   September 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks Kamal for your comments. The problem here is no one is serious about the responsibility been given to them when the new govt was elected.

      It’s an open secret that the present govt is biased to apple growers across the state. People in apple belt were open hearted by electing BJP candidates this time. The party is considered a dragon in this belt though as past experiences show. We had a dud of a horticulture minister during Congress regime and people had high expectations from Narender Bragta but he too has not fared any better. Part of the problem is every minister knows that nothing can happen to him for next 5 years as long as he is in the good books of the CM.

      Apart from Horticulture ministry, the PWD has been the biggest villan. Road conditions in this belt has been completely ignored since this govt took charge. Since 2003, the NH 22 has not been mettled from Shimla onwards. Only patch work was done. This resulted in pathetic road conditions during this season.

      People rejected Congress for very same reason and the present govt took the very same approach. The horticulture ministry in it’s own assesment in June 2010 predicted 3.5 crore boxes but simply sat on the report. Any responsible person would have worked overtime to ensure availability of cartons and trays. You won’t beleive the situation was so bad that the HPMC run packing house at Tikkar, Jarol was not able to work as there were no trays in this govt run establishment for a week. Truckers were demanding 2000/ Rs. for 65 boxes from Jarol to Narkanda for transportation, 30/ per box for a distance of 8 km!!

      Someone has to be responsible. Why is it that a guy from apple belt has to be a horticulture minister?? Dhumal should look into this and hand it over to someone with grit.

  2. Amar Singh   September 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Very well written article. Nityin, you have rightly stated that the present govt is biased against the apple belt. That is why so much mess was seen this year with regard to management of infrastructural facilities. It is apprehended that the Rohru-Theog road was delebrately dug before the apple season so that the apple would not be transported because it was well known that the rains shall play havoc on such road. Otherwise the widening work could be halted till the apple season while the govt was aware about the bumper crop. The govt did its best to ruin the apple growers by not arranging adequate trucks, giving free hand to truckers to overcharge 3 to 4 times of notified fare, mismanagement at Kufri leading to traffic jams, closure of Gumma carton factory, artificial shortage of packing material created by the manufacturers and so on. As regards the PWD, less said the better. Apple growers who were happy to find a bumper crop,were in fact exploited by all and sundry. What to speak about our horticulture minister? He proved his incompetence to the fullest. That is why he was handled in the right manner by women in his constituency as reported in yesterday’s newspapers.
    The politicians hear only when stones are pelted or shoes are hurled.


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