Shimla, Sep 1 (IANS) With more than 40 percent of the apple crop in Himachal Pradesh harvested and reaching various markets across the country, prices of the fruit have crashed, traders said Sunday.
They said the prices crashed due to heavy arrival of the fruit and were not likely to bounce back.
"The prices of all varieties of apples declined massively. A box of Royal Delicious these days is fetching around Rs.1,100 at auction, almost 50 percent less than what was 10 days back," said Pratap Chauhan, a trader at Dhalli apple market near here.
According to the estimates of the horticulture department, the state is heading for a bumper apple harvest this season after two consecutive years of less than normal yield.
A production of over 3.50 crore apple boxes of 20 kg each is expected, which is approximately 7.65 lakh tonnes, a horticulture department official said.
He said 6.89 lakh tonnes of apple are expected to be marketed out of the state.
Chauhan said the price of Royal Delicious came down by about Rs.200 per box in just two days. Likewise, Red Gold is currently fetching from Rs.300 to Rs.600 per box while the earning for Golden is Rs.200-550.
Agro commodities trading houses Adani Agrifresh, Dev Bhoomi and Container Corporation of India are procuring best quality apples at rates ranging from Rs.50 to Rs.54 per kg directly from the growers.
"Till date, 1.6 crore boxes have been sent to various markets in the country," horticulture department director Gurdev Singh told IANS.
He said almost half of the crop sent out from the state has been auctioned in local market yards, mainly Solan, Dhalli, Narkanda, Kullu and Parwanoo.
Trade representatives said earlier that most of the produce was disposed of at Asia's biggest Azadpur market in Delhi.
A large number of growers are preferring to sell the fruit in Chandigarh instead of Delhi, where commission agents are charging up to eight percent from growers. In Chandigarh, no commission is being charged.
High quality apples from the Chango, Ribba and Namgiya valleys of Kinnaur, and Hurling in Lahaul and Spiti that command a virtual monopoly in the markets are likely to hit the markets by next month.
Horticulture is a vital sector in the state's economy as it generates more than Rs.3,200 crore annual income.
Himachal Pradesh's apple boom is credited to Satyanand (Samuel Evans Stokes Junior), an American missionary, who first introduced high quality apples in the Kothgarh-Thanedar belt in upper Shimla in the early 1920s.
His daughter-in-law, Horticulture Minister Vidya Stokes, now manages most of the family's orchards.