Shimla, June 29 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh, whose apple industry is worth over Rs.2,000 crore, will soon have another cold chain storage with grading and packing facility in the apple-growing areas of Shimla district, an official said here Saturday.
An apple packing grading house, having facility of controlled atmosphere stores, would be set up at Kharapathar. This would benefit the farmers, especially fruit growers of Jubbal and Kotkhai areas, a government spokesperson told IANS.
He said Horticulture Minister Vidya Stokes disclosed this at a meeting of the board of directors of Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corp (HPMC) here Friday.
She said the packing and grading house would be funded by the union commerce ministry.
Stokes said techno-economic feasibility reports have been prepared for setting up of 5,000 metric tonnes juice extraction units at Chopal, Rohru and Rampur in Shimla district, Patlikuhl and outer Siraj in Kullu district and Churah and Bharmour in Chamba district.
The reports would soon be sent to the union government for funding, she added.
In July 2012, a 35,000 apple-box-capacity storage facility, involving an outlay of Rs.503 lakh, was opened at Jarol Tikkar near Kotgarh in Shimla district.
Computerised grading and packing units with a capacity of four lakh boxes of 20 kg each were also set up there.
Horticulture department estimates say this year the state is heading for a bumper apple production after two consecutive years of less than normal yield.
A production of over 3.75 crore apple boxes of 20 kg each is expected, Gurdev Singh, director of horticulture, told IANS.
Himachal Pradesh's apple boom is credited to Satyanand (Samuel Evans Stokes Junior), an American missionary, first introduced high quality apples in the Kothgarh-Thanedar belt in upper Shimla in the early 1920s.
His daughter-in-law, Horticulture Minister Stokes, now manages most of the family's orchards.
Apple is the main fruit crop of the state and is grown in nine of its 12 districts. It accounts for about 40 percent of the total area under all fruit crop cultivation.
Besides apple, other fruits like pear, peach, cherry, apricot, kiwi, strawberry, olive, almond and plum are the major commercial crops of the state.