Local markets a boon for Himachal apple growers

Apple An abysmal winters this year and an equally abysmal monsoon later dashed the hopes of apple growers. Production this year in the orchards dwindled from the previous years. Delayed monsoon further hit the overall quality and growth of the apple. It was under this background the apple harvest season started this year. Though there has been a big fall in the overall arrivals in the market, apple growers are getting handsome returns for their crop. There is a big mis-match in the overall demand and supply. For the first time in the history an average apple box is selling above Rs. 1000 right through the season in the local fruit markets.

Other major reason for commanding higher prices apart from the demand and supply factor is growers are now able to sell in local markets. They are not solely dependent on the Delhi traders, who over the years looted and plundered the apple growers. Shimla has become a major hub for selling apples. Local markets are operating in Kharapathar, Rohru, Narkanda and Kheksu in Shimla district. The crop reaches the local market the second day after plucking and packing. These markets have considerably reduced the transportation costs for the growers. Local markets have also reduced the overall costs of hiring manpower for plucking and packing. Earlier when the apples were transported to Delhi, large number of people were required for this work as the crop was transported in trucks in bulk.

Narkanda is a major apple market in the apple producing areas of Kotgarh, Kumarsain, Dalash, Ani, Rampur, Baghi and Rohru area. With local market at Narkanda, growers are now transporting one Utility vehicle load, normally 80 boxes. Growers keep a tab on the market price trends and also have an option of stopping the supply in case the market crashes. The crop is sold in presence of the grower and it is an open auction. Growers now are more aware about the quality of packing, grading etc. as they visit the market often and are aware which practice can fetch more money. All this was not possible earlier when the entire crop was sent to Delhi. It was not feasible for everyone to go to Delhi to sell the crop. Delhi traders would then make a sale at their own whim. After calculating the expenses and commissions grower would get very less returns.

Delhi traders have exploited the growers for long. Till date, how apple is sold in Delhi is still a mystery. The buyers speak in a different code language and the deal is sealed among them in a strange fashion of touching fingers under a small towel which they carry. This is a big mystery and a grower only knows of the rate when he gets the sale letter in hand. The entire method is highly unfavorable for the growers. Above all Delhi is the only market in India which charges commission from the growers. No market in India does. APMC law in Delhi clearly states no commission to be charged from the growers but it has not been implemented till date. No govt, whether in Himachal or Delhi is serious to protect the grower’s interests. Though every year before the apple season starts, right noises are made and meetings done with Delhi administration but nothing happens! Lately, the Himachal government has taken a recourse in courts and taken up the issue of apple commission charged from the growers in court.

I discontinued sending my crop to Delhi way back in 2002 and sold initially at Shimla. In 2005 the Narkanda market started and since then have sold the crop their. My average savings is more compared to the cost of selling at Shimla and Delhi. I sell 80-90 boxes at a time. This way I am able to control my costs of hiring the labor. Just 4 person are required for plucking and packing. We all work from 9-5. One day goes in plucking and the second day is for grading and packing the boxes. The boxes are transported to the market on the second day itself. A 25 km journey next day to Narkanda and the boxes get sold by 11 am. I am back home by 12. Payment is done by cheque and usually get cleared in a week’s time. Local markets have certainly made life easier.

A word on Adanis and others who have opened up cold stores. They have NOT been able to help the small farmers. Firstly, the rate offered is lesser than the prevailing market rates. They have very stringent quality control. Usually they demand the best apple at a very low price. This year, the rate offered is Rs. 38/ per kg for the best quality apple. In open market a best quality apple box of 25 kg sells for Rs. 1400 – 1800 where as they are offering Rs. 950. So who sells apples to them? It is majorly the big growers who produce apples in bulk and do not have the resources for packing and transporting the crop to the market. Labor has become scarce and costly as Nepalese have stopped coming for the past few years. (Adani buys apple in crates and does not require any packing. Just pluck the apples and send it to their cold stores.) Previously when the market would crash growers would sell directly to save on packing and transportation costs.

What does the future hold for apple growers? Local markets are here to stay and will flourish in coming years. Many more will come up. People are now saying goodbye to Delhi market and rightfully so!. Delhi traders are trying to get into local markets but they still follow the Delhi ethics. I don’t see them making a mark here. Eventually consolidation will happen between the buyers. Already there are buyers as far from Nepal, Bangladesh and from cities like Lucknow, Nasik, Sangli, Kerala, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata. These buyers are also bypassing the Delhi market and purchasing directly from the growers. Many more will come in future and this will ultimately weaken the stronghold of Delhi traders.

I wish the govt. stays away from the local markets. Anything the govt. touches turns to crap. Let these markets evolve on there own.

What do you think?

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20 Responses to "Local markets a boon for Himachal apple growers"

  1. Dheeraj Chauhan   August 30, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Nice article from a farmer’s perspective. I agree with you that the buyers will consolidate. Economic Times did a story ( http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/Economy/Agriculture/High-apple-prices-keeping-pvt-cos-at-bay-in-Himachal-/articleshow/4892750.cms ) and tomorrow if the bigger companies and the arthiyas make a cartel, it would spell doom to the apple growers!

    Reply
  2. Dheeraj Chauhan   August 31, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Nice article from a farmer’s perspective. I agree with you that the buyers will consolidate. Economic Times did a story ( http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/Economy/Agriculture/High-apple-prices-keeping-pvt-cos-at-bay-in-Himachal-/articleshow/4892750.cms ) and tomorrow if the bigger companies and the arthiyas make a cartel, it would spell doom to the apple growers!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Grow local, sell local at Himachal Pradesh at Blogbharti

  4. Saazid SIngha   September 2, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Hi Nityin , A really neat write up . And its good to see that the local markets have made quiet a huge impact on the income of the Delhi traders .

    Also the younger generation of growers need to join hands and look at other value adddition processes in order to make apples a much more profitable avenue .

    With the weather pattern being so unpredicatable … lesser crop yield could be a regular feature so should look at optimising returns .

    Looking fwd to following your blog regularly …

    Cheers

    PS – all the best with the rest of your season .

    Reply
    • NITYIN   September 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Saazid

      Thanks for dropping in and for your comments.

      Reply
  5. khaadu75   September 3, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Great blog .. I commented earlier too but it aint showing !! Good to see another youngster return home to farming after experiencing the corporate world .

    Also its great that farmers are exercising more control over their produce via these local mandis and the Delhi arthiyas have finally been made to sit back and re think their strategies . Im sure these guys will come up with something to take over these local mandi too soon if the growers dont stay united and focussed .

    As for the commission at the Delhi mandi … I know for a fact of a minister who once made a lot of noise but then shut up as he had been paid off by the Arthiyas and that too the tune of 7 cr . Also that minister himself is a grower but I guess the lure of easy money makes these guys forget everything .

    Also the youth of the apple growing areas need to get united and look at value added options for the apples in order to make the most of their produce . Unfortunately the one thing thas missing in most areas is the Unity amongst the youth when it comes to progress . Also the fact that the actual control of the orchards comes to the kids only when the old man is too old and by then the fire of being innovative and being experimental is kinda gone in the younger generation .

    But yeah .. nothing like life back home . Still far away from the maddening crowd of total commercialisation with a lot of traditional customs still in place .

    Have a good season my friend… !!

    Cheers

    PS – Where exactly are you from as I too am from proper Kotgarh . You can also follow me at http://singhafarms.blogspot.com/ but I aint as proffessional as you are in the blogging world .

    Reply
    • NITYIN   September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm

      Thanks!

      In fact there is a greater degree of resentment among small farmers for the Delhi traders. Opening up of these local mandis have definately been a big help. Need of the hour is fresh plantation and know how of new farming techniques. Other wise the orchards will be finished in the coming 8-10 years. A very good discussion is going on Himvani on this subject. Do join in.

      I did visited your blog earlier when you were setting up in Gurgaon but then lost the bookmark 🙁

      BTW I run a hindi blog with the same nick name as yours.

      Reply
  6. Saazid SIngha   September 3, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Hi Nityin , A really neat write up . And its good to see that the local markets have made quiet a huge impact on the income of the Delhi traders .

    Also the younger generation of growers need to join hands and look at other value adddition processes in order to make apples a much more profitable avenue .

    With the weather pattern being so unpredicatable … lesser crop yield could be a regular feature so should look at optimising returns .

    Looking fwd to following your blog regularly …

    Cheers

    PS – all the best with the rest of your season .

    Reply
    • NITYIN   September 4, 2009 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Saazid

      Thanks for dropping in and for your comments.

      Reply
      • Inder   June 27, 2010 at 6:52 pm

        Well Written. May i have your email address please ?

        Reply
        • NITYIN   June 28, 2010 at 7:28 am

          Hi thanks. Send me a mail at [nityin] at [himachallive.com]

          Reply
  7. khaadu75   September 3, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Great blog .. I commented earlier too but it aint showing !! Good to see another youngster return home to farming after experiencing the corporate world .

    Also its great that farmers are exercising more control over their produce via these local mandis and the Delhi arthiyas have finally been made to sit back and re think their strategies . Im sure these guys will come up with something to take over these local mandi too soon if the growers dont stay united and focussed .

    As for the commission at the Delhi mandi … I know for a fact of a minister who once made a lot of noise but then shut up as he had been paid off by the Arthiyas and that too the tune of 7 cr . Also that minister himself is a grower but I guess the lure of easy money makes these guys forget everything .

    Also the youth of the apple growing areas need to get united and look at value added options for the apples in order to make the most of their produce . Unfortunately the one thing thas missing in most areas is the Unity amongst the youth when it comes to progress . Also the fact that the actual control of the orchards comes to the kids only when the old man is too old and by then the fire of being innovative and being experimental is kinda gone in the younger generation .

    But yeah .. nothing like life back home . Still far away from the maddening crowd of total commercialisation with a lot of traditional customs still in place .

    Have a good season my friend… !!

    Cheers

    PS – Where exactly are you from as I too am from proper Kotgarh . You can also follow me at http://singhafarms.blogspot.com/ but I aint as proffessional as you are in the blogging world .

    Reply
    • NITYIN   September 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm

      Thanks!

      In fact there is a greater degree of resentment among small farmers for the Delhi traders. Opening up of these local mandis have definately been a big help. Need of the hour is fresh plantation and know how of new farming techniques. Other wise the orchards will be finished in the coming 8-10 years. A very good discussion is going on Himvani on this subject. Do join in.

      I did visited your blog earlier when you were setting up in Gurgaon but then lost the bookmark 🙁

      BTW I run a hindi blog with the same nick name as yours.

      Reply
  8. Kotkhai Dweller   November 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Very well written…Facts stated …GOOD JOB !!!

    Reply
  9. Kotkhai Dweller   November 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Very well written…Facts stated …GOOD JOB !!!

    Reply
  10. Inder   June 27, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Well Written. May i have your email address please ?

    Reply
    • NITYIN   June 28, 2010 at 1:58 am

      Hi thanks. Send me a mail at [nityin] at [himachallive.com]

      Reply
  11. Bhushansood46   November 20, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    nice ideas & a truth

    Reply
  12. Ramkumar   June 26, 2012 at 8:30 am

    i like  to help farmers directly sell apples to south india  markets like chennai,bangalore,madurai,coimbatore,dindugul,erode,hosur,coimbatore,myzore,vijayawada,hyderabad,thiruvanatha puram,cochin,calicut,…..if any farmer like contact me  K.ramkumar email: kram.kumar1990@gmail.com  ph:09944084720   am fruits distributor to all big wholesalers….

    Reply
  13. Mouhib_ansar2003   December 22, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    i want to export Apples from Afghanistan to India on suitable price anyone interested in it, so please contact me:
    email add: mouhib_ansar2003@yahoo.com
    phone num :            0093789819239      

    Reply

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