Apples lose sweetness to glut, poor quality

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 17

The apple market has seen a significant slump over the past two weeks. A box of quality apple, fetching over Rs 3,000 a fortnight back in the main mandis of Shimla district, is now going for Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000. "The market is going down continuously," said NS Chaudhary, president of the state arhtiya sangh. "The main reason for the sharp decline in the prices is the lack of quality. Only around 25 per cent of the produce has good size and colour, the rest of the produce is either hailed, or the size is very poor," said Chaudhary.

While the quality produce is still fetching a reasonably good price, the poor quality apple is finding few takers. "The arhtiyas are struggling to sell the apple lacking quality. The buyers are showing little interest in hailed apple," he said.

Comparatively, the growers were getting good prices last year. "The crop was less last time and the quality too was good, so the price were good. This time there's heavy crop and because of that, there's problem with the size of the fruit," said Chaudhary.

The growers too are worried over the declining prices. "While the growers' cost of production has increased significantly this year due to rise in prices of packaging material, labour and transportation, the price of their produce is declining continuously," said Harish Chauhan, president of the Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Growers Association of the state. "It's not a good sign at all for the growers. If the trend continues, the growers will struggle to make money," he said.

Earlier, pears too failed to fetch good prices this year compared to last year when pear growers got good prices. "Like apple this time, there was a heavy crop of pears. Besides, there was flood in Maharashtra and Gujarat at a time when the fruit was marketed," said Chauhan.

Meanwhile, the efforts of the Agricultural and Marketing Board and some growers to introduce crates as an alternative to cartons have not yielded the desired results.

"The response for using crates so far has been much below our expectations. We will get a feedback on this to ascertain the reason for it," said Agricultural and Marketing Board MD Naresh Thakur.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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