Juicy Kinnaur apples hit market

applesShimla, Oct 5 : Famous for its natural sweetness, colour and succulence, apples from Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district are selling well in markets in north India.

Gian Singh Chandel, chairman of the apple market committee at Dhalli near here, said the apples from Kinnaur are in good demand in Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, and are fetching good prices.

"A box of superior grade of Royal from Kinnaur is fetching around Rs. 1,100. Similarly, Red Royal is getting Rs. 900 per box," he said.

According to the horticulture department, apple production from Kinnaur district is estimated between 24 and 25 lakh crates of 20 kg each.

"The demand for apples from Kinnaur has picked up as the crop from other apple-growing areas in the state is almost over," Jagat Negi, horticulture development officer at Rekong Peo, told IANS.

S. P. Bhardwaj, former joint director at the Solan-based Y. S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, said the apples from Kinnaur's Chango and Ribba valleys are always in demand because of its natural sweetness and long shelf-life.

"Since the apples grown in high altitudes take much longer time to mature as compared to the mid hills, the conversion of starch into sugar during fruit maturity takes place slowly and gradually that makes the fruit more juicy and crunchy," he said.

Apples in Kinnaur are grown at an altitude above 10,000 feet.

Himachal Pradesh this year is heading towards an all-time record of apple production of over 4.5 crore (45 million) standard boxes. Last year, the production was just 1.4 crore boxes.

Till date, over 4 crore boxes of apples have been sent to various markets.

The economy of the state is highly dependent on apples, besides hydropower and tourism. The state's apple industry is worth Rs. 1,500 crore ($330 million). (IANS)

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