Sweet cherries go sour for farmers in Himachal Pradesh!
Farmers in Himachal Pradesh are worried as despite less yield following bad weather during this season, their cherry crop is not able to fetch attractive price in the market.
A Kinnuar-based cherry farmer B S Negi, while talking to UNI, lamented that this year too cherry crop yield was not as good, owing to hostile weather conditions in the state.
But despite having lean crop and thin supply of cherry in the market its price was not picking up and business is proving unprofitable proposition to farmers.
He said the best varieties of black cherry picked up from organic lots was getting Rs 150 to Rs 200 per kg in the wholesale market in national capital this year, whereas it was fetching between Rs 100 to Rs 125 in the local markets here. Whereas last year the rate was somewhere between Rs 200 to 300 per kg.
The main reason of decline in its yield was poor weather condition and hailstorm and wind storm affected the produce. He said, “despite good moisture contents in the soil, the crop should have been better this year, but it was our hard luck following unpredictable weather.
Moreover poor price would hit the interest of farmers as the could not make out costs of labour, packaging and transportation expenses out ot it which rather have gone up by manifold over the year.
Agriculture experts blaming immatureness on part of farmers who were pumping their crop into markets without studying the proper market mechanism like its demand and supply. They alleged that farmer over the years have been sending their produce to those markets which have already been flooded with cherries.
Cherry is highly perishable fruit as its shelf life is not five to six days unlike apple so farmers always hurry up to dispose of their produce on whatever price band he got.
The state government has supplied about 15,000 fresh rootstock of high yielding cherry like black and red heart cherry to the farmers in the state.
Narkanda, some 65 km from Shimla, is the hub of cherry production. Cherry are mainly grown in the higher reaches of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts. At least 10,000 small farmers grow cherries on 405 hectares as an alternative crop.
Upper middle hills have ideal climate for cherry cultivation and its fruit were planted during winter season. Kandyali about 55 km from here belong to former chief minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh is known for cherry productions which have cherry orchard in about 20 hectare area.
The government should also create mini cold storage facility for cherry crop in the state as its constant perennial demands remain for being prominently use for making pastry and food catering.