Left-backed Himachal Seb Utpadak Sangh on Saturday blamed the wholesalers for decline in the apple market.
Threatening to launch a statewide stir, president of the sangh Rakesh Singha accused the government of mortgaging interest of apple growers across the state.
“The sangh would intensify its protest and a rally would be held at Controlled Atmospheric Stores (CAS), Jarol-Tikkar, of Shimla district on September 10,” said Singha in a press statement here on Saturday.
The sangh lashed out at the government for its failure to provide relief to apple farmers at the time of market crisis. “The attitude of the government and it agencies are shameful and instead of providing assistance to farmers, they are conniving with corporate houses,” said Singha.
Singha said the study conducted by the sangh revealed that the retail price of quality apple in 27 cities of the country was varying between Rs. 120 and Rs. 175 per kg, but the wholesale price for the same quality of fruit was slashed by Rs. 25 to Rs. 40 per kg.
The sangh accused the government of shifting policy perspective from protecting growers' right to extend assistance to corporate houses to reap profit.
Underlining the need of strengthening the post-harvesting technology, Singha said this would negate the conspiracy of commission agents who were exploiting growers of the state. Further, he said Agriculture Produce Export Development Authority (APEDA) had sanctioned Rs. 30 crore to strengthen the post-harvesting system, but the government had outsourced all upgraded infrastructure to corporate houses.
“Post harvesting infrastructure has been outsourced to the corporate houses, which are minting huge profits without having to invest a single penny,” he said.
Elaborating, he said in the past whenever there was a slump in the market, the cold storage facility was used by the farmers for storage till the market improved.
“But, during this year, only token facility of storage is available for the farmers. Rest of the space is outsourced,” he said.
Accusing HP Horticulture Produce, Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) of favouring private players, he said government agencies which were meant to help growers were playing in the hand of corporate houses.