The Himachal Seb Utpadak Sangh has stated the sharp fall in the whole sale price of apple is worrisome. Rakesh Singha, President, Seb Utpadak Sangh, in his press communiqué, said that it’s astonishing the retail price of the good quality apple in 27 cities of the country is varying between Rs. 120 to Rs. 175/= per kg, but the whole sale price for the same quality of fruit has sharply dropped fluctuating between Rs. 25 to Rs. 40/= per kg.

Singha claimed that the steep fall in the prices of apple is not because of the operation of the laws of the market forces, but has been engineered by the whole sale commission agents through manipulation done in the market to make “windfall profits” at the cost of the plight of the farmers. The Seb Utpadak Sangh accused Govt, its agencies including the HPMC for failing to provide relief to the apple growers. CPM supported Sangh termed the attitude of the HPMC as shameful and instead of giving assistance to the farmers; it has chosen to connive with the corporate houses and whole sale commission agents doing apple business, Sangh accused.

The Seb-Utpadak Sangh accused government for shielding corporate houses at the expense of the interest of the apple growers. CPM supported Sangh believes that by strengthening the post harvesting technology, apple growers can negate the conspiracy of the commission agents who are exploiting the poor farmers.

Quoting and example of Parkash Thakur Director APEDA (Agriculture Produce Export Development Authority), whom Sangh believed that by his personal afford Rs. 30 crore has been invested to strengthen the post harvesting processes for apple, fruit and vegetables. The outdated cold storages at Jarol Tikkar in Kotgarh and Gumma in Kotkhai were replaced by controlled atmosphere stores (CA stores) and modernized packaging houses were established. It is shocking all these post harvesting infrastructures have been outsourced to the corporate houses, who are minting huge profits without having to invest a single penny and the poor farmers are being fleeced by the commission agents.

The Sangh has stated, whenever in the past there has been a slump in the market the cold storage facility was used by the farmers for storage till a period the markets improved. However, during this season only token facility of storage is available to the farmers, which is not helping them to tide over the crises created by the commission agents.

The Seb Utpadak Sangh has further stated the HPMC was created for the welfare of the farmers but today it is serving the interest of the corporate houses by creating an environment in which they are able to earn huge profits.

Rakesh Singha stated that the Seb Utpadak Sangh has decided to intensify the struggle of the apple growers in order to protect them from the exploitation of the Adanis, Dev Bhumis and the commission agents. It has decided to hold a rally at Tikkar cold store in Kotgarh on 10th Sept 2013. It has warned the HPMC not to mortgage the interest of the farmers to the commission agents. It has appealed to the farmers to stop the operation of plucking apple on 10th Sept. and to join the rally being organized at Jarol Tikkar.

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