The Himachal Pradesh government will set up an apple processing plant at Kotkhai in Shimla district to convert the crop procured from the belt into juice or concentrate, Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh Thakur said on Friday.
Replying to a query of Congress member Rohit Thakur, Mahender Thakur said the processing unit is under consideration so that apples of C-grade procured from the apple belt could be used for juice and concentrate.
Earlier, the apple procured under Market intervention Scheme (MIS) is transported by Himachal Pradesh Fruit Processing and Marketing Corporation (HPMC) to its Parwanoo unit for processing.
As during the transportation, a large quantity of apples got wasted but this wastage could be reduced and these could be used on the spot after the commissioning of a new plant at Kotkhai, he added.
He stated that the fruit processing plant was set up at Parwanoo in 1981 which has a capacity of producing 18,000 metric tonne apple concentrate every year. The processing plant in the last three years has produced 2,326.31 metric tonnes of apple juice concentrate from 28,818.89 mt apple procured by the HPMC and the unit is being upgraded.
BJP member Anita Dhiman demanded that a processing plant for citrus fruit produced in lower areas of the state and Indora Area of Kangra district be set up.
The minister stated that the state should have been known as a fruit state but instead, it has become an apple state which is unfortunate.
“My home came under a subtropical area where apples can’t be grown. The two-third area of Himachal falls under subtropical areas and enough resources for processing of these fruits have not been made.
The government is implementing ‘Shiva’ project with assistance of Asian Development Bank project and around 45,000 hectare land will be brought under subtropical fruits. The project would help in setting up a processing plant for citrus fruits in Kangra district,” he added.