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The apple grower in Himachal Pradesh have strongly resented the Himachal State Government’s move of hike of just 25 paise per kg in the support price of apple. The State Cabinet met last week and decided to offer Rs 7 per kg as the support price for the second grade fruit. Many organisations including State Kisan Sabha and the Fruit Growers Associations have called it an insult of the hard working farmers who wait for the entire year to sell their produce and get such miserable returns.
The Kisan Sabha Secretary and former Shimla MLA Mr. Rakesh Singha demanded that at least the Government should announce a support price of Rs. 12 per kg. The Kisan Sabha has maintained that the Commission Agents are getting benefited instead of the farmers when the Government keeps the support price so low. They are also now avoiding giving reasonable returns to farmers on their first quality produce, alleged State Kisan Sabha president Kuldip Tanwar.
The HP Government’s decision of providing such a low support price to farmers is helping the middle men more, he added. The State has not even provided the last year’s payment to farmers who had given their produce under the market intervention scheme. It should purchase the farmers’ produce under the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, said the farmers here. Former State Horticulture Minister Narendra Bragta also alleged that Virbhadra Singh Government has failed in giving payments under MIS to farmers from last three years and now after announcing an increase of 25 paise per kg it has added insult to the injury of farmers.
The Government has not started the procurement centres and the crop has already been harvested in the lower belt of the apple producing areas, he said. The Congress has stalled the processing plant project started by the previous Government at Gumma in Kotkhai. It was to be made to stop the low quality apple from reaching the market so that the farmers could get a better price for their normal quality apples, he said. The Government has also failed in timely clearing roads of the landslips and debris at various places which is badly hampering the transportation of apples to outside markets, alleged the BJP leader. Unfortunately the State here has also failed in starting the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, he informed.