The apple debate, before and after FDI
- Spot-fixing: Chandila was in touch with four sets of bookies, says Delhi Police
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives, to hold talks with PM on boundary, water issues
- IPL 2013: Delhi Daredevils crash to defeat, finish last
- Jaganmohan's wife attacks CBI, accuses it of working at Congress behest
- Blast accused death: UP govt seeks CBI probe, FIR against 42 persons
Apple growers in Himachal Pradesh find themselves at the crossroads of fluctuating market forces, struggling to overcome a crash in prices — caused largely by an over-enthusiasm to sell — and wondering what FDI in retail will mean to them.
This year's 1.50 crore boxes so far — a box can vary between 20 and 24 kg — are much lower than the projection of 2.65 crore but the Himachal apple came in a glut in the middle of September and has hit the country's markets ahead of the Kashmir apple, encouraging growers to sell rapidly to middlemen as well as corporate giants and wholesalers who arrived at their gates. This sent prices crashing from Rs 2,800 to Rs 1,200 per box, and the recovery since then has been marginal, with the most delicious varieties now fetching Rs 1,600 per box.
Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta has blamed the arrival of foreign apples for the crash in prices. "It's only when foreign apples from China, the US and Europe reached Indian markets that prices crashed as we cannot compete with those varieties. It has caused a loss of more than Rs 600 crore," he said, a day before the BJP and other parties observed a Bharat bandh to oppose FDI in retail.
Bragta predicts FDI will wipe out India's fruit industry and the biggest losers, besides Himachal Pradesh,will be Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Himachal's apple industry generates Rs 2,200 crore annually.
Other than prices, the problems facing growers include lack of marketing infrastructure — which some hope will improve with the arrival of foreign retailers — and the middlemen culture. "Unless we address these basic problems, the fruit economy of the state will remain in a crisis due to gluts, fruits rotting in the orchards and the markets, crashing prices and exploitation by middlemen," says Prakash Thakur, an orchardist and director, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
- Former Ranji player among 3 more held
- Rajasthan Royals to file FIR against tainted trio
- If found guilty, BCCI to ask ICC to erase Sreesanth records
- Top cops among 42 named in death of blast accused
- PM takes tough line on incursion issue
- Security forces blame Maoists, villagers say CoBRA man was killed in ‘friendly fire’