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Himachal

Posted at: Aug 22, 2019, 8:09 AM; last updated: Aug 22, 2019, 8:09 AM (IST)

Bill soon to ensure growers are not fleeced: Minister

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 21

Only universal cartons would be used for packaging of apples from the next year as telescopic cartons are benefiting ‘ladanis and arthis’ (commission agents) and not the growers, Horticulture Minister Mahinder Singh told the state Assembly today.

Replying to a discussion initiated by BJP, Chief Whip Narinder Bragata, the minister said the government would bring a Bill in consultation with all the stakeholders to ensure that the growers are not fleeced.

All the telescopic cartons which are in use would be replaced as the growers have complained that extra apple are being packed in standard carton with 20 kg capacity, implying that in addition to the commission charged by agents and ‘arthis’, one additional carton is made from two telescopic cartons.

Further, the cost of telescopic carton is between Rs 45 and Rs 47 per carton and additional three trays costing Rs 5 each can be added to the box which further increases the cost while universal cartons could be procured at Rs 40 and only fours trays would be used.

Suggestions of all the stakeholders, including producers and experts, would be taken into consideration and a policy would be framed before the commencement of the next apple season, he said.

He said that hailstorm caused sharp fall in price of apple up to 75 per cent and to save the growers from loss, 23 mini processing units, which have availed loans and subsidy from the government, have been directed to pick up the raw material from collection centres. The big processing unit at Parala in the apple heartland would save transportation charges and setting up of processing units in private sector in small pockets would be given subsidy.

Big orchadists can build small CA (controlled Atmosphere) stores in their orchards which could store up to 30 MT of apple. The government would provide a subsidy of Rs 7.5 lakhs for the same, he said.

Moving the calling attention motion, Bragata said the price of 20 kg apple which were between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4000 has dropped to Rs 500 making the plight of growers miserable.

As the apple growers are also victim of vagaries of weather and closed roads, setting up of apple processing plant in the apple belt in Upper Shimla would help to a great extent, he added.

He said that the telescopic cartons are expensive and have capacity to accommodate extra 10 kg apple which benefits the ‘arthis’ and commission agents, bringing bad name to the industry.

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