The hill state is likely to miss the expected target for this apple season and it may end in a shortfall this year.
The state government released apple figures here on Sunday, which stated that it has recorded over three crore of apple carton boxes that reached in various fruit markets across the country. The authorities projected target of over four crore-apple boxes this year and is still short by one crore-apple box, which is hardly to be met.
Now the markets would witness arrival of Kinnuar, Chamba and Lahaul Spiti apple, which is of high quality but it likely to be not more than 30 lakh boxes. Initially the horticulture department estimated over four crore apple boxes but so far only three crore boxes have been exported to different markets within and outside the state.
Apple is produced in Shimla, Mandi, Kinnaur, Kullu, Sirmaur and Chamba district. However Shimla, Mandi, Kullu and Kinnaur are largest producer of apples making Himachal a bruit bowl. Now, around ten per cent apple is to be harvested in Kinnaur district.
Director Horticulture Mr D. P Bangalia said more than three crore apple boxes had been exported to various markets and about 31,758 metric tones of apple has been procured under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) by HPMC and HIMFED.
He also said six more collection centers had been opened in the higher reaches of the apple producing areas to facilitate the fruit growers and as on now 269 collection centers are functioning under MIS in the state. He also said final figures would be available by the end of October and the apple season has remained smooth and growers have harvested more apples as compared to last year.
With dropping the apple arrival in markets, growers are getting good prices and since there is limited apple available in the market so the price is good and growers from higher altitude areas including Kinnaur are fetched good prices for their produce. The major reason behind falling of estimates could be the small size of apple, which could be attributed to weather. “Apple size was small and the High court’s order to axe apple trees on encroached land created panic amongst the farmers that resulted in early picking of unripe apples,” Apple grower Kunal Chauhan said.
Apple constitutes 90% of the fruit crops of the state. During 2014-15 (up to December 2014), 581metric tones of apple was produced, in 2013-14, it was 739 metric tones, 412 metric tones in 2012-13, 275 metric tones in 2011-12, and in 2010-11, there was a record production of 892 metric tones of apple. The total area under apple cultivation has increased to 107,686 hectares from 3,025 hectares in 1960-61. It is produced in Shimla, Sirmaur, Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Mandi, Chamba and Kinnaur districts and has an economy of around Rupees 3,500 crore