October 30, 2017 5:28:29 am
A week since the orange season began, traders say its prices are set to rise. Unusually high summer temperature and a long retreat of the monsoon have taken a toll on the orchards, with farmers and traders saying they expect around 40 per cent less crop this season.
Maharashtra, with over 1 lakh hectares of orchards, is an important supplier of the fruit across the country. Districts in Vidarbha like Nagpur, Amravati and Akola are important orange-producing places with large area under the orange crop. Nagpur oranges now is the most sought-after commodity for its sweetness and texture. The orange season for Pune normally starts towards the end of October and peaks towards the middle of November.
Rohan Ursal, a trader in Pune’s Gultekdi market yard, said that while the season has started on time, all indications are there that this would be a lean season. “At present, the prices per dozen are around Rs 1,000-1,100 per box (a box contains 20 kg), but these are early days,” he said. Ursal said with reports coming in of around 40 per cent dip in production the mid-season price might hover between Rs 800-1,000 per box. “Last year, the mid-season prices were around Rs 600-700 per box,” he pointed out. At present, majority of harvested oranges are headed towards the southern states and once it picks up, Pune market would see substantial arrivals. In fact, the dip in production has also cast its shadow over the direct-to-customer sales initiative carried out every year by the social organisation Apulkee.
Abhijeet Phalke, co-founder of Apulkee, said they are yet to receive any request from farmers about this year. Apulkee has been instrumental in setting up stalls for farmers who wish to bypass the middle men and sell directly to the consumers. Under this initiative, Apulkee helps farmers set up stalls at various IT companies and also mans them. Also, along with the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB), Apulkee helps in setting up direct-to-customer stalls. Last year, around 33 tonnes of oranges were sold in this fashion. Phalke said while they are yet to receive any requests for this initiative this year, they will be ready to do so later in the season also. “If we are approached, we shall go ahead,” he said.
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