The Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) is set to launch e-commerce facility for the sale of various products, including apple, with the Centre giving its nod to the HPMC office automation project.
A Rs 8.75 crore project was prepared and sent to the Centre for approval. The project was recently cleared by the union information and technology department on a shared finance basis, under which the state would have to pay its share of Rs 92 lakh, while the Centre would provide a fiscal assistance of Rs 7.83crore.
After implementation of the project, the debt-ridden corporation, which deals with over Rs 4000 crore fruit economy, will get some respite as manual work and manpower burden on the corporation will lessen. The HPMC has around 250 employees and most of the times it faces acute shortage of manpower.
The corporation - which was established as a state public undertaking with an objective of marketing fresh fruits and processing all types of surplus fruits - has sought to go e-commerce way in view of its wide network.
HPMC vice-chairman Prakash Thakur said, "The corporation has a wide network, having offices in all four metro cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi, besides sale outlets in several other states. After implementation of the automation project, our entire network will go online, which will enable us to offer our services through Internet."
HPMC managing director (MD) JC Sharma, who churned out the project, said adopting hi-tech measures would benefit the corporation in coming time. "It will not only lessen the dependency on manpower, but also enable the HPMC to go online for selling its produce, including apple," he said.
Now, accounts, marketing and human resource braches will be automated and more stress will be given on market strategies.
So far, the HPMC has been procuring apple under the Market Intervention Scheme and after the automation of its office, it will be able to sale apples online.
"Our marketing strategy will be changed and growers' will also be profited," he said.
The HPMC is also selling bottled juice, besides tetra packs and ciders. It sales jam and other fruit products. As per a report of the public sector units tabled in the Vidhan Sabha, the HPMC incurred an accumulative loss of Rs 70 crore with Rs 6.94 deficit in consecutive three years.
Apple constitutes 90% of the fruit crops of the state. During 2014-15 (up to December 2014), 581metric tonnes of apple was produced; in 2013-14, it was 739 metric tones; 412 metric tonnes in 2012-13; 275 metric tonnes in 2011-12, and in 2010-11, there was a record production of 892 metric tonnes of apple.
Area under apple cultivation has increased to 107,686 hectares from 3,025 hectares in 1960-61. It is produced in Shimla, Sirmaur, Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Mandi, Chamba and Kinnaur districts and has the economy of around Rs 3,500 crore.