An apple rejuvenation project in Himachal Pradesh has seen thousands of new plantings across several orchards in a bid to breathe new life into the sector and future proof it for generations to come.
Old plantings are being replaced with new saplings as part of the government-led initiative in one of India’s leading apple growing states.
Apples are the principal cash crop of Himachal Pradesh, principally grown in the districts of Shimla, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and to a lesser extent in Sirmaur and Lahaul-Spiti. These areas can be prone to hailstorms and so part of the project is also to protect new plantings with hail-proof nets.
“We are in the process of a very exciting new apple initiative in Himachal Pradesh that will bring with it new varieties,” a spokesman for the state Horticultural Boards tells PBUK.
“At the same time as new plantings are happening, teams of workers are also getting rid of some older trees that are no longer viable because they produce very low grade fruit. Many of these have been around for decades.
“This has been going on for a while now and the important work will continue as apple production is a huge part of the state’s economy with production for the very large domestic market and export overseas.”
Apples from Himachal Pradesh are also exported to other Indian states.
The state government is being supported by the World Bank which has given around £108 million worth of funding for agricultural modernisation to expand the production of high value horticulture commodities.
Given the climate and growing conditions of Himachal Pradesh, producers could tap into off-season markets and with better use of technology, could be capable of increasing yields. Currently there are still very high post-harvest losses exacerbated by weak storage and marketing systems.
“There is so much scope for fruit commodities in the state,” adds the spokesman.
“Through this rejuvenation programme, the hope is to secure new varieties and higher production for the years to come, making sure apple orchards in Himachal Pradesh are fully optimal and producing high quality fruit that is good not just for the domestic market, but for export as well.”