SHIMLA: Due to a slump in the prices of apples in the fruit markets of Himachal Pradesh, farmers are not receiving an adequate amount for their crop. The fear of an impending third COVID-19 wave is also adding to the panic forcing farmers to sell even the unripe fruit, leading to a fall in the prices.
The Vice-Chairman of Shimla-Kinnaur Agriculture Committee, Naresh Sharma said, "There is a slump in the market. The quality is low because of hailstorms and supply is also high. Covid -19 has also impacted the market. The farmers are getting less prices in comparison to the previous years. To date, 50 lakh boxes have reached the market and as per estimate from the horticulture department nearly 4 crore boxes production is expected this year."
Apples from Rohru, Theog, Kotgarh, Narkanda, Rampur, Jubble, Kotkhai and Chopal are supplied to the Shimla market. The varieties of apple available are of Spur, red gold, Royal delicious and Red varieties.
"The inflow of apple supply is increasing each day. The prices are very low this year," said an apple fruit trader. Prices are down to Rs 300 for an apple box weighing 20 to 25 kilograms.
The possible third COVID-19 wave is also hitting the prices. "Due to the fear of third COVID-19 wave farmers have started plucking the unripe crop and are selling these, further affecting the market," said another apple farmer. Himachal Pradesh has 11 lakh hectares under crop cultivation and out of this 2 hundred thousand hectares land of fruit grove. Apple crop occupies around 50 per cent area of the state fruit groves. The economy of the state depends on apple production as it generates over Rs 4500-5000 crore revenue for the state.