Agnihotri emphasized the significance of religious sites like Anandpur Sahib, Amritsar, Dera Beas, Wagah border, and Jallianwala Bagh, frequented by people, especially from Una district
In 2022, four crore apple boxes were produced, that number may halve this year
This season, apples will be scarcer and dearer partly due to early leaf fall which led to sparse growth of the fruit in most parts of Himachal Pradesh ravaged by the rains. The rains, in turn, also affected connectivity as national highways, state highways, and local roads witnessed massive landslips and landslides.
The estimate of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch Himachal is that this year’s apple crop could be the lowest in 25 years. Harish Chauhan the convener of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch of Himachal says, “In 1999, and 2011 we had a terribly low crop. This year we may drop further than that.”
He says Shimla produces three crore apple boxes, Kinnaur produces 25 lakhs to 35 lakh apple boxes, and Kullu and Manali 75 lakh in a good season. This year we are looking at half that number or even less than that (maybe about 1.5 crore to 2 crore boxes).”
Sanjay Chauhan, the co-convener of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch of Himachal Pradesh too endorses what Harish Chauhan says. “Last year, Himachal supplied roughly four crore apple boxes to the mandis. This year the harvest is going to be about 1.5 crore to 2 crore.”
Chauhan who belongs to Tharola panchayat in Kotkhai, Shimla, says, “About 50,000 apple boxes in our panchayat would have ideally been harvested and transported by August 10. We are already 11 days late, and the harvest hasn’t been picked because the road connectivity is poor. The main highway – NH5 – is operational off and on due to which the orchardists and truckers are finding it difficult to ferry the produce. He adds, “Even if some roads are open, the price to ferry one box of apple which was Rs 70 last year has shot up to Rs 150 since truckers have to take a longer route.”
Harish Chauhan adds, that 60 per cent of the harvest is still on the trees. “We are having our fingers crossed about its safe disposal to the mandis.”
Not just roads, but even flooding has caused a lot of damage in the orchards.
Vishal Beakta, joint secretary of the Progressive Growers Association is a victim of that. “I have personally lost 130 trees of the new variety due to the flooding in my orchard in Huli, Theog, and about 50 conventional seedling trees,” Beakta adds. Apart from this year’s loss due to the leaf fall, it will also impact next year’s crop since the premature leaf fall leads to fragility in the flower bud and poor bloom in the flowers in the following season, he says.
The scenario is no different in Kullu and Manali, the second-biggest apple-producing region of Himachal. Prem Sharma the former four-time President of Kullu and Manali Fruit Growers Association says, due to landslides, roads were closed which delayed the apple transportation. Even though the produce is just 50 per cent of what it was last year, the problem is the means of transportation are very poor. “Imagine the main highway was closed for 10 days in August,” he adds. However, Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, Ashutosh Garg says,” Transportation is not going to be a problem henceforth. We are ensuring that the ferrying of the crop is carried out smoothly.”