In a significant move aimed at streamlining apple packing processes and protecting the interests of growers, the Himachal Pradesh government has announced the implementation of universal carton packaging for the upcoming apple season. The final notification issued by the Agriculture Department comes after thorough consideration of objections and suggestions from stakeholders, marking a pivotal shift in apple packaging practices in the state.

Under the new regulations, apples will now be exclusively sold in universal cartons, each containing approximately 20 kilograms of produce. This standardized packaging is designed to empower growers by minimizing exploitation from middlemen and ensuring fair compensation for their produce.

The Himachal government has laid down stringent standards for apple sizes and weights, providing clear guidelines for growers to adhere to. As per the notification, growers are required to weigh their harvested crops at home and inscribe the weight on each box using an indelible marker. Additionally, machine-based weighing facilities will be available at mandis to further streamline the process, safeguarding growers from exploitation by intermediaries.

Previously, under the influence of middlemen, growers often packed excessive quantities of apples, ranging from 28 to 30 kilograms per box, leading to discrepancies in pricing. The introduction of universal carton packaging now specifies different weights, tray numbers, and apples per box for six grades of apples, ensuring transparency and fairness in trade practices.

The specifications for apple grades include:

– Extra Large (XL): Estimated weight ranging from 221 to 280 grams, with four trays containing 20 apples each.

– Large: Estimated weight ranging from 181 to 220 grams, with five trays containing 20 apples each.

– Medium: Estimated weight ranging from 141 to 180 grams, with five trays containing 25 apples each.

– Small: Estimated weight ranging from 127 to 140 grams, with five trays containing 30 apples each.

– Extra Small: Estimated weight ranging from 111 to 126 grams, with five trays containing 35 apples each.

– Pitu: Estimated weight ranging from 90 to 110 grams, with five trays containing 40 apples each.

Additionally, corrugated fiber boards or separators may be used for pitu, with five boards allowed per box containing 200 apples.

Horticulture Minister Jagat Singh Negi emphasized that only universal cartons will be accepted in Himachal Pradesh, with over-packaging being deemed unacceptable. This move signifies a significant step towards standardizing apple packaging practices, ensuring fairness, and enhancing the competitiveness of Himachal Pradesh’s apple industry on a global scale.