Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Saturday said that 26 empanelled firms are ready with around 1.20 crore cartons for packing apples ahead of the harvest season of the fruit which begins next month.
The horticulture department has “tied up marketing arrangements” for the apple growers at Azadpur Mandi in Delhi and Gannaur Mandi at Sonipat in Haryana, he said in a statement after presiding over a meeting convened here to review the preparedness of the state ahead of the harvest season.
The government has identified controlled atmosphere (CA) stores in Himachal, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi having a capacity of 1.17 lakh metric tonnes, and cold storage facility of 32 thousand metric tonnes is also available for the horticulturists, Thakur stated.
The horticulture department will ask labour contractors to contact their employees who had left the state and request them to come back to work in the orchards, he said. Apple growers are currently facing a shortage of labour due to the absence of seasonal labourers, particularly from Nepal, who form the backbone of the apple economy in the state.
“If required, the state government can consider sending buses up to Dehradun and other places to bring Nepalese labourers to Himachal. This matter can be taken up with the administrations of districts (in Uttarakhand) bordering Nepal,” said the CM.
He added that farmers are expected to get a good price for their produce this year as the import of apples from other countries has not been possible due to the pandemic.
Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh Thakur said that 5.83 lakh metric tonnes of apple are expected to be produced this season. The apple season begins in July and lasts till October.
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