Himachal Pradesh will import American apple varieties to boost production of the mainstay of its economy with an annual turnover of Rs 4,5 bln (€58.5 mln). The apple saplings, which will be distributed among orchardists, are being imported under the World Bank-funded Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development Project.
State horticulture director M.L. Dhiman: “A team of officials is in the US to review saplings in nurseries in various states, including California, and will return on November 11. We have received a positive response. Decisions will be taken after the officials return. The apple saplings will be imported soon.”
The previous Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government had decided to buy apple saplings from Italy, but the move ran into rough weather as officials were accused of ordering thousands of saplings during an unfavourable season that led to them drying up before they reached the growers.
US apples superior to Italian ones
Retired horticulture scientist SP Bhardwaj: “In any case, US apples are superior to Italian ones as they have a longer shelf life and are genetically superior in terms of colour, shape and taste.”
Fruits Vegetables and Flower Growing Association of Himachal Pradesh president Harish Chauhan agrees and says, “This is a good initiative by the state government. US apples are far superior. The state government should consider importing apple saplings from France, New Zealand and Serbia also.”