Adani Agrifresh plans to procure 30,000 tonnes of apples in Himachal Pradesh this year, an official of the agro-commodities trading house said Tuesday.
"This season, we are procuring more apples as our storage capacity in the state is going to increase from 18,000 to 20,400 tonnes," deputy general manager Sanjay Mahajan told IANS.
Last year, the company had procured 25,000 tonnes apples with an average procurement price of Rs.38 to Rs.40 per kg.
The hill state is one of India's major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 percent of the produce going to the domestic market. The apple industry is worth over Rs.3,200 crore.
Horticulture department estimates show the state is expected to produce 25-30 percent less apples this season compared to last year's bumper production of over 32.2 million boxes.
Superior grades such as Royal Delicious, Red Chief, Super Chief, Oregon Spur and Scarlet Spur have started arriving, but the supply would only pick up by the middle of August.
Adani has three stores at Rampur, Sainj and Rohru, all in Shimla district, with a storage capacity of 6,000 tonnes each.
In the Rohru store, the capacity will be increased to 8,400 tonnes after its expansion.
"For the first time, we are going to procure apples from Kullu district too," Mahajan said. Earlier, the company was concentrating only on Shimla district.
Besides Adani, other prominent private trading houses eyeing procurement of apples are Concor's Fresh and Healthy, Mahindra and Mahindra, the first time entrant Mother Dairy and Dev Bhoomi.
To attract private investment in horticulture, the state government is providing land from this fiscal at a token lease money of Re.1 to those who intend to invest in controlled atmosphere stores in the rural areas.
Officials say Rs.1.25 lakh per tonne is the average cost for setting up a controlled atmosphere store with latest grading system.
To enforce standard cartons for marketing apples, the state has made it mandatory this year to use two sizes of cartons only -- 22.5 kg and 11 kg.
Himachal Pradesh's apple boom is credited to Satyanand (Samuel Evans Stokes Junior), an American missionary, who first introduced high quality apples in the Kothgarh-Thanedar belt in upper Shimla in the early 1920s.
His daughter-in-law, Horticulture Minister Vidya Stokes, now manages most of the family's orchards.