Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation Ltd. (HPMC) has increased the prices of the packaging material of apple.

The HPMC has hiked the cost of the carton by around 10-15 per cent. Tray cost is also increased marginally.

Condemning the extensive hike in the rates of cartons that are used for packaging of apples and other fruits by HPMC and other agencies, apple growers of the state have demanded the state government to immediately withdraw this decision.

The apple growers have demanded the state government to provide these cartons at reasonable and affordable rates.

Terming the hike in prices anti-farmer and anti-horticulturist, apple growers have claimed that last year, cartons were available in the market for Rs 45 to Rs 55. However, this year, the government has increased its price to Rs 75 which is a hike of 25 to 30 percent.

Himachal Pradesh Kisan Sangharsh Samiti leader Sanjay Chauhan said that recently, the horticulture minister in a statement had assured that this year there would be no hike in the prices of cartons and the government would provide cartons to the orchardists at the same price as last year. But only 20 days after this statement, the government has hiked the rates of cartons.

“This attitude of the government raises doubts on the intention of both the government and the minister and also raises a question on the seriousness of the government towards the orchardists of the state,” said Chauhan.

He said that this unexpected price hike has made it clear that the government is acting under the pressure of the carton manufacturers. Today, farmers and orchardists are facing huge crisis. On the one hand, natural calamities like heavy hailstorm, rain and snowfall have already damaged about 70 percent of apples.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.