The state may have approved an ordinance to standardise apple packaging but growers remain confused as over graded packs continue to fetch fair prices in the market.
Some growers have been bringing over graded and overweight apple packs in the market and earning well compared to those adhering to the government's order on weight specification. This chaos is discouraging other growers from adopting standard packaging norms.
Though the decision was taken in the favour of growers, uncontrolled markets and lack of vigil by the authorised Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) have disappointed the growers right in the beginning of the apple season.
The apple's early variety, Tydeman, is ready to harvest in lower and middle altitude orchards and fetches a good price. "A box of Tydeman is sold between `700 and `1200 but the weight and grade matter a lot," said an apple trader in APMC's Dhali fruit market.
He said the government had ordered growers to adopt standard packing but growers were still sending over graded and overweight packs to get good prices. "There is a demand for over graded packs in the market and those coming in 22 kg packs are getting fewer prices," he said, adding that small size apples could not be backed accurately with set weight standard.
Mahender Singh Thakur, an apple grower from Kotgarh, said he kept some apple boxes under 23 kg which were sold at `900 while some overgraded boxes with nearly three-four kg more were sold at `1200.
"This difference is quite large and it is hard to adopt standard packaging if there is no uniformity in the market," he said.
Another apple grower Kunal Chauhan said there should be strict vigil on apple boxes, particularly in the market since there might be some traders forcing growers to send over graded apples.
"With the kind of infrastructure and manpower we have in the state, it is hard to implement standardisation in telescopic cartons, especially on the threshold of the season," Chauhan said.
In May, the government had announced setting the packaging standard for apples as 22.5 kg for larger packs and 11 kg for smaller ones. An ordinance regarding the same was brought few days ago.
APMC managing director HS Baweja said the committee would hold a meeting of all officials concerned and roll out its plan to implement the new standard. "The apple season has just started and soon APMC will start work on the standard packaging issue," he said. On the issue of rate disparity, he said it would be checked properly and no one would be allowed to carry out illegal practices.