Apples from the hills at Lalbagh

Apples from the hills at Lalbagh

juicy: A young visitor bites into an apple at the four-day Horti Fair Sangam at Lalbagh. dh Photo

Organised by the National Horticulture Board (NHB), a subsidiary of the Government of India, the Horti Fair Sangam offers delicious varieties of apples including Kashmir Delicious, Royal Delicious, Red Delicious, Chamura and Golden Delicious. Besides the three states, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are participating in the fair with a wide range of processed foods.

Assistant directors of the NHB Dharam Singh and J B Singh said the main purpose of organising the event was to connect farmers with the consumers and keep away middlemen.

“Our Board bears the cost of transportation, improved packaging and post-harvest management technology. Our intention is to offer people tasty fruits at a reasonable price. For instance, based on quality and size, apples are sold at Rs 60 to Rs 100 a kg,” Dharam Singh said.

Visitors to the fair were delighted as they could purchase good quality apples at a price cheaper when compared to the open market. “The fruits here are sold at half the price when compared to the open market and are of much better quality,” said Chandramouli, a visitor.

Worm in the apple

President of Apple Growers’ Association of Jammu and Kashmir, M Y Dar, who is participating in the fair, said his state was the largest producer of apples in the country but the horticulture sector, which is mainly dependent on the fruit, is in distress.

“We produce mainly apples and other horticulture products worth Rs 3,000 crore every year. Almost 80 per cent of the population is dependent on horticulture and last year, apple production was 20 lakh tonnes. We need subsidy on fertilisers, pesticides and transportation. We also want cold storage and cold chain facilities across the country but the government is not responsive to our demands,” he rued.

Dar alleged that the money released by the Centre and the state for apple growers hardly reached farmers. “Growing apples has helped people survive through insurgency, but today the sector is at pain and is looking at the government for solutions,” he said.

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