Fruit growers say the minimum support price for apples should be at least ₹20 (€0.24) per kilogram. Himachal growers are dealing with shortage of labour amid the apple harvesting season, anticipating losses they have asked the state government to increase the minimum support price.
The apple season is scheduled to begin in a week but the orchardists are still scrambling to arrange manpower to help harvest and pack the fruit. For decades, the fruit growers have been dependent on the services of Nepalese labourers. This year, the labour could not return to the hill-state in wake of the pandemic.
The Nepalese labourers have been the backbone of the state’s apple economy. They help with all kinds of strenuous work, including digging pits, planting saplings, spraying chemicals, plucking, packing and transportation.
Representatives of the Federation of Apple Growers Societies (FAGS) conglomerate of different fruit grower associations had recently met chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and apprised him of their difficulties.
State Congress president Kuldeep Rathore on Saturday hit out at state government’s decision to hike apple support price by 50 paise and has demanded the state government to raise support price by at least ₹20 per kilogram.
In a statement issued by Rathore said that orchardists have already suffered huge losses due to hailstorms and lockdown, therefore, the government should increase support money by ₹20 per kg in order to provide relief to them. He also demanded the state government pay the outstanding amount to orchardists and said that they need money so that they can make arrangements for transportation of their produce to markets.