Himachal Pradesh’ horticulture sector, really the backbone of the state’s economy is staring at a major crisis. Fruit growers have almost run out of packaging material to store their produce, after a 21-day nationwide lockdown was invoked to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Factories in the state’s Kala Amb city in Sirmour district and Baddi and Barotiwala in Solan district, manufacture cartons, boxes and crates for fruit growers across the state. Packaging material sourced from Uttar Pradesh was also in short supply.
They were, however, shut down once the lockdown was put in place, giving horticulturalists sleepless nights, despite assurances by the state government. Fruit growers also faced depleting supplies of fertilisers, pesticides, micronutrients and fungicides and a lack of means of transport to mandis (markets) for sale.
The state’s cherry produce is almost ripe. Stone fruits — including plums, apricots, bayberries, green almonds and peach — will be ripe for harvest soon after, in mid-May, followed by apple and pear harvests that begin mid-June.