Shimla:A bumper harvest in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradeesh has pushed down prices by a fifth over last year, causing further distress in the state, though corporate buyers such as Concor and Adani are purchasing briskly, reports Economic Times.
As per the ET report the current prices at Shimla mandis are varying between Rs 300 and Rs 700 for a 20-22-kg box depending on the quality. The Kinnaur price is between Rs 1,300 and Rs 1,500 for a 20-22-kg box. The Jammu and Kashmir prices are varying from Rs 200 to Rs 800 for a 25-kg box.
“With a bumper crop across Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, prices are 30-40% less than the previous year. The earnings to farmers are less and traders have made huge business, which has not been passed to the consumer,” said All India Apple Growers Association president Ravinder Chauhan.
In Himchal, the crop is likely to touch 37.5-40 million boxes from the earlier expected 25 million boxes. Kashmir produces over 12 lakh metric tonnes a year but horticulture director Dr GH Shah said this year’s produce is over 30% from last year. “It would have been double but inclement weather, hailstorm and speedy winds destroyed most of the additional crop,” he said.
The Kashmir apple grower is suffering from two immediate reasons — over-production in Himachal Pradesh and delayed monsoons. “Usually, there was a gap of one month between the harvesting in Himachal and Kashmir and by Diwali our produce would start going to the market,” said Syed Altaf Bukhari, the promoter of the FIL industries, Kashmir’s major agriculture entrepreneur. But this year this was not the case.
The panic in Kashmir has added to the crisis. Currently, 700-800 truckloads are going to the Azadpur mandi against the demand of 300 truckloads. This has triggered a glut and a fall in the prices.
With an 18,000-tonne controlled atmosphere (CA) storage in Himachal Pradesh, Adani’s Agri Fresh is hopeful of procuring over 25,000 tonne this year from both states. “The previous year, due to high prices we were only able to procure 9,000 tonne apple,” said Adani Agri Fresh vice-president Shrinivas Ramanujam. In Kashmir, the CA storage facility has been underutilised.
Said Bukhari, who owns 18000 metric tonne of CA storage: “We are yet to start storing because there is no good response to storage this year.” Khuram Shafi, who runs a 4,000-metric tonne storage capacity, in Lassipora, Pulwama, in the heart of south Kashmir’s apple belt, however, said the capacity was full 50% and arrivals were brisk.