Himachal harvests 7.34 lakh tonnes apples this season

Shimla, Nov 1 (IANS) The apple season in Himachal Pradesh, known as country's fruit basket, has ended with a bumper production of over 3.22 crore apple boxes of 20 kg each, which is approximately 734,000 tonnes, an official said here Friday.

The apple season officially closed Thursday with the state recording the second highest production in the past four years, state horticulture department director Gurdev Singh told IANS.

He said of the total apple produce, the state has procured about 34,000 tonnes of fruit under the market intervention scheme, whereas agro commodities trading houses like Adani Agrifresh, Dev Bhoomi and Container Corporation of India procured 12 lakh boxes.

According to the department records, the highest production of 892,000 tonnes was recorded in 2010 when 4.46 crore boxes were produced.

The state's normal yield is of 2.50 crore boxes.

The production in 2012 was 412,000 tonnes of apples but just 275,000 tonnes, the leanest in all these years, in 2011.

Horticulture is a vital sector in the state's economy as it generates more than Rs.3,200 crore annual income.

Apple alone constitutes about 93 percent of the total fruit produce in the state.

Surveys of the state horticulture department say the productivity of apple ranges from 6 to 11.5 tonnes per hectare in the state, in comparison to 35 to 40 tonnes per hectare in more advanced countries.

Himachal Pradesh's apple boom is credited to Satyanand Stokes, an American missionary who settled in India and participated in its freedom movement. He first introduced high-quality apples in the Kothgarh-Thanedar belt in upper Shimla in the early 1920s.

The area under apple cultivation in the state has increased from 3,025 hectares in 1960-61 to 104,000 hectares in 2011-12, which constitutes more than 48 percent of the total area under fruit cultivation.

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