The sudden fall in prices of apples grown in Himachal Pradesh this year has once again brought the failure of successive governments to fore in regulating market forces manipulating prices.
The peeved growers have upped the ante against the state government as the price of an apple box has come down in the market ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 1400 in comparison to Rs 600 to Rs 2800 last year.
Fall in price of apples has sent a shockwave among the growers as they are expecting bumper crops of estimated 3.5 crore boxes this season while nearly 2.5 crores boxes were sold last year.
Apple growing is the mainstay of a large number of people in the state and it is also a main contributor of estimated Rs 5000 crore in the state’s economy every year.
Many families are fully dependent on the income generated by apple growing in Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur and Lahaul –Spiti.
Fetching good prices for apple crops due to market manipulation has always been a bane of growers despite the fact the growers spend a lot of money on raising orchards, spraying pesticides and insecticides and bearing expenses for taking the produce to market, besides putting in hard labour.
The strong nexus of Arhtiya and buyers (Laddanis) have always left the growers cheated as their crop is sold through underhand deals instead of open auction. The apples are sold in the retail market throughout India at a very high price but growers do not get their due.
For the past few years private players like Adani and others have entered the apple trade in the state, who according to growers are not paying them fair price for their apple crop.
The apple growers have an old history of agitations to press their demands and had launched strong agitations in 1987 and 1990. In 1990 three agitators were killed in police firing at Kotgarh.
This year also growers have formed a Sanyukat Kissan Manch and decided to hold protests in 13 tehsils demanding immediate attention of state government towards their demands.
Sanjay Chauhan, a leader of the Manch said, “The growers have joined hands to demand support price for every category apple through market intervention scheme (MIS) on Jammu and Kashmir pattern .”
He says , “ As the crisis in the apple economy is growing and growers cheated; it is very important to put a check on market manipulators and successive governments have failed to create infrastructure and develop a mechanism for saving the growers. “
At present the state government is buying culled or “C” grade apples through Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) at Rs 9.50 paisa per kg.”
Managing Director of HPMC Rajeshwar Goel said, “HPMC has already purchased 11000 metric tonnes culled apple through 165 collection centers till now and 30000 metric tonnes is likely to be purchased this year against 19000 metric tonnes last year.”
He said, “The state government is also supplying inputs to growers, providing infrastructural facilities like CA cold stores at many places, besides helping growers through the State Horticulture Development Project.”
HPMC uses the culled fruit for processing jams and juices at its crushing plants at Jarol and Parwanoo and is establishing another modern plant at Parala.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said,” Giving support price for all categories of apples requires a lot of funds.”
Former Director of National Institute of Agriculture Marketing Madhusudan Jairath said, “ The government should put a complete ban on underhand dealings between Arhtiya and buyers and ensure open auction in the market to break the cartel of Arhtiya as a first step to stop apple price manipulation. “
“The state government should get the apple included in the future trading in the commodity exchange by seeking help from the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs and SEBI to fetch a better price of apples,” he added.
2 thoughts on “Open auction of apples must to check price manipulations”
I agree with your view that government must intervene and stop fleecing of apple growers by the present sale-purchase mechanism by ensuring they get reasonably good return for their produce. Breaking the nexus between arthias and buyers for further supply is urgently needed as you also suggested. At present there is smooth ground for big monopoly houses to gain the modt at the cost of small apple growers. It is ironic that government related recent slump in apple prices to demand supply connect and suggested growers to halt supply ignoring the facts that perishable produce like fruits cannot be hold back for long time, and also the fact that majority of the apple comes in from the higher altitude and supply side is proportionately almost the same each year irrespective of the volume of the crop.
State must act to safeguard the interest of the farmers as contribution of apple production to state economy is significant.
You are right Doctor Sahib. In fact the argument of demand and supply put forward by the government is not true. The government agencies have not been able to break the nexus of the price manipulators and open auction could be one such step which to me is must, besides introducing MIS. HPMC created with the help of World Bank Project has also not been of much help despite nation wide network and marketing centers.
The apple crisis can not be addressed without the intervention of the government which is important to save the the economy of Himachal.
Thank you so much for your valuable input.
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