Here is something which should be an eye opener about handling of apple season this year. Out of the total procurement done by HPMC this year, 45% procurement could not be transported due to bad roads and absence of trucks resulting in rotting at collection centres.
Mohan Chauhan, MD, HPMC said, “HPMC procured about 62,800 MTs of apple under Market Intervention Scheme through 151 collection centres in the state as on 26th October, 2010 and processed about 9100 MTs at Fruit Processing Plant Parwanu and Jarol (Sundernagar) and sold about 26,000 MTs in open market at Parwanu (Solan) and Pandranu (Jubbal) respectively. The balance spoiled quantity which could not be lifted/transported due to compelling reasons will be utilised for rightful purpose commercially as manure.”
45% of the procurement simply rotted!! That’s it. No questions asked. No heads rolled. No one blinked.
Can one imagine that MD of Adani or Reliance would dare say that 45% of their procurement simply rotted because of the ‘compelling reasons’? They would have got a kick and their entire career would have got screwed for good. Rest assured, no such thing will ever happen in this state.
Let me elaborate more on his statement above. While 9100 MTs apple will be processed at HPMC plants, 26,000 MTs was sold in the open market. Can anyone tell why apple was sold in the open market in the first place? The idea of support price was mooted for the culled fruit, which was unfit to be sold in the open market. This was to be used for processing in HPMC plants for making juice, jams and other products. By dumping this fruit in open market, HPMC contributed in crashing the market prices thereby spoiling the economy of the growers.
Simply note the difference in figures, 9100 MT and 26,000 MT..!!
Why HPMC did not use the maximum fruit in it’s processing plants for which it was meant? HPMC products have a pan India demand and HPMC also has a pan India network. Why they are not using this network to market it’s products?
It takes roughly 1 kg of apple to prepare half kg of jam. Private companies sell 1 kg of jam for Rs. 160/. Do I have to do the maths to calculate the profit margins, when they are buying apples for 5.25 per kg?
The problem over the years has been that the government has not bothered to take stock of these plants. It was during the the tenure of Dr. Parmar that these plants were set up, who had a vision to make this state truly a fruit state of India. Sadly his vision died with his death and what we are seeing today is a result of the complete mis-management accumulated over the years by both Congress and BJP. Once they screw up the govt run plants, like the Gumma carton factory, they conveniently bring consensus to close the plant.
Does these processing plants ever run to their full capacity? HPMC never bothered to come out with such figures.
Horticulture department also runs HIMCU which is responsible for canned fruit products. They have a plant at Naubhar in Shimla, next to the Horticulture directorate. Just visit the place and you will not find a single cann in the entire plant. The equipment is totally ancient. There is no machine to peel the fruits and the entire peeling is done by hand!!!
This is the state of the govt. run processing plants.
On one hand private companies are expanding their operations every year, Himachal govt run plants are becoming white elephants despite readily available raw material and huge demand of products in the market. Doesn’t this fall under the purview of anyone? Or the comfort of lal battis makes one to ignore the basic duty for which one gets elected?
Some murky understanding between the higher ups in the government and the private companies can not be ruled out. While the govt tends to ignore the production at HPMC plants so that the private companies can do brisk business. Why is that on one hand the HPMC is not able to streamline production in just two units where as private players are expanding production every year?
Let me turn to the last line of the MD, HPMC quote about preparing manure out of those rotten apples.
After all the mis-management the govt finally came up with a golden idea to prepare manure from the rotten apples. No one knows what is the scientific basis of this manure. Will the Horticulture University certify each and every bag which will be distributed to the growers, as this idea is said to be originated from there.
But firstly, the big question, who will answer the tax payers of the state that the apples bought at Rs. 5.25 per kg is being used to prepare gobar. It is not Bragta or Dhumal who are spending the money from their own pocket but the money is being spent from the tax payers kitty.
Let Narender Bragta who is (ir) responsible for horticulture in the state, tour lower Himachal districts of Hamirpur and Kangra and tell the people that his government is preparing gobar out of the apple procured @ Rs. 5.25 per kg from their hard earned money.
Finally, let me share a joke (true incident) doing rounds at the HIMCU plant. A burra sahib from the Horticulture department lately visited the plant for inspection and was given a bottle of jam as a gift. Next day the sahib called up and thanked for the excellent bottle of honey given to him!
Well, this is the true state of horticulture.
Only in Himachal..!!