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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Reduced apple crop affects labourers

Dipender Manta, Hindustan Times  Kullu , August 24, 2014
First Published: 21:32 IST(24/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:34 IST(24/8/2014)

Local as well as migrant workers in this district are finding it difficult to get work this year owing to less produce of apple.

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The apple industry is one of the largest in the state, which provides livelihood to thousands of families in the apple belt districts.

Mahesh Kumar, a resident of Raysan in this district, tells HT that every year in the apple season he takes orchards on contract for packaging of apple fruit in cartons, which gives him an opportunity to earn good money, but this time the apple produce is low, which is giving him a tough time in finding work.

According to Kumar, the apple season is one of the best times for local labourers to earn in keeping with their expertise like packaging and grading as they are in great demand in villages as well as in local fruit markets, but the less produce of apple fruit has affected their prospects.

The low produce has not only hit local labourers but also migrant ones, who visit the district for three to four months in the apple season to earn their livelihood.

Santosh Kumar and Raj Kumar, natives of Uttar Pradesh; and Biresh Singh, native of Bihar, tell HT that in the past few years they have been visiting the district regularly in the apple season and making good money. But this time they are facing difficulty to find work in the local markets.

Raj Kumar says they earned Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,000 last year as daily wage for packaging and grading owing to good arrival of the crop in the market, but this year, due to low arrival, they are forced to remain idle for better part of the day.

He says many of his colleagues have gone to other places in search of work.

Jeeva Nand Thakur, a commission agent at Bandrol fruit market here, says the arrival of apple produce this year is half of last year's, but farmers are getting good returns. He says farmers are getting Rs. 25 to Rs. 55 per kg for quality product of apple in the market, while the lowest price is Rs. 15 per kg.

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