( Apple growers protesting at a CA store Bithal)

While apple growers of Himachal Pradesh are on warpath against ‘arbitrary’ procurement price reduction of apples by private Controlled Atmosphere (CA) Stores of the state, the state government has decided to intervene to find a solution to grower’s grievances.  

Acting tough against management of Adani Agri Fresh Limited, having the largest three stores in the apple growing area, the state government constituted committee has issued a notice to the company and initiated a move to sign MOUs with all companies having CA stores.  

Hundreds of apple growers had staged demonstrations at various CA stores on August 25 and had threatened not to allow movement of apples from the stores. The state government had constituted a committee having experts and the grower’s representatives as its members.  

In Himachal Pradesh corporate groups like Adani Agri Fresh Limited, Dev Bhoomi traders and several others are in apple marketing business for nearly 15 years. The Adani’s,  the largest buyer of apple crop in major apple producing areas of Shimla district  have established three large CA- stores at Sainj (Theog), Mehdali  (Rohru) ) and Bithal (Rampur) to store and market apples.   

All these stores purchase apples during peak season when price of apples is quite competitive and keep apples in the CA stores for several months to sell the same during off season at very high price, minting huge profit.

The state secretary of CPM Dr. Onkar Shad says, “The CA stores were established in the state to save apple growers during apple glut when apple price is quite low, the state government had initially given 80 percent subsidy to these stores and at present giving them fifty percent to establish new stores .”

“Approximately 2 lakh metric tons of apples are purchased by the stores but many companies are lowering apple price arbitrarily and imposing unreasonable conditions to purchase their crop; the CA stores have become exploiters instead of helping the growers,” he adds.

The CA stores are giving space for storing grower’s crops in the stores when they are supposed to give 30 percent space in the stores to them.

A major hindrance in putting a check on the CA stores is lack of MOUs with the companies, despite giving them huge subsidies and benefits.

Sanjay Chauhan, co- convener of Sanyukta Kissan Manch and a member of the committee said, “The state government constituted committee in its meeting held on Friday took strong note of arbitrary functioning of certain CA stores, has issued notice to Adani Agri Fresh Limited and invited suggestions from the grower’s associations to formulate draft of MOUs.”

He said, “Several companies have agreed to address a few issues raised by them and to provide 30 percent space in the store for the growers’ crop.”  

Suggesting a long term solution former Director of National Institute of Agriculture Marketing Dr Madhusudan says,” The state government should do accreditation of all CA stores with the Government of India in the interest of apple growers, provide space to orchardists for storing their crop in the stores, sign MOUs with companies and ensure making apple growers partners in journey of apple price kept in stores purchased in  peak season to selling it in the off season to share profit.”

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