Himachal seeks central package for fruit crop loss

Shimla, Aug 4: Himachal Pradesh Thursday demanded a special financial package from the central government for the loss to the fruit crops due to hostile weather, an official statement said.

State Horticulture Minister Narender Bragta met Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in New Delhi and demanded that hailstorms should be included in the list of natural disasters so that farmers can get compensation.

‘The loss suffered by the fruit growers should be compensated under a central scheme,’ he said.

According to Bragta, the state has suffered a fruit crop loss of Rs.900 crore due to hailstorms in the past three years.

Bragta later told IANS the hailstorms this season have severely hit the Kothgarh-Thanedar apple belt in Shimla district, the prominent apple belt in the state.

Cherry, pear and peach crops too have been hit due to weather vagaries, he added.

Bragta also met Union Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma in New Delhi and apprised him about the economic impact of dumping of apples at much cheaper rates by developed countries, including China, in the domestic market.

Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 percent of the fruit being sold domestically.

The state’s fruit economy is estimated to be around Rs.1,500 crore.

IANS