Apple growers in Himachal Pradesh face challenges as ” arhtiyas” go on strike
Shimla, July 20
Apple growers in Himachal Pradesh are grappling with a triple whammy this year. First, there is a significant reduction in apple production; second, recent weather calamities have wreaked havoc on roads, bridges, farms, and trees; and now, a conflict has arisen between the ” arhtiyas” association and the State government. In an unusual development, news about Apple buying agents or ” arhtiyas” has emerged, and it’s causing concern among growers.
On Thursday, frustrated growers from Karsog, Kotkhai, and Theog arrived at the Bhattakufar fruit market with their apples, only to find the market completely closed and the agents absent. This unexpected situation has raised worries among the gardeners as around 15 vehicles full of apples reached the fruit market on the day.
The protest stemmed from reports indicating that the “Aahrtiyas” are not purchasing apples on a kilogram basis, as mandated by the government. Recently, the State government had announced that apples would be sold per kilogram in 24 kg packing. However, the buyers are not adhering to this norm, prompting the government to take a strict stance and warn the agents to comply with the regulations or risk license cancellation. Horticulture Minister Jagat Singh Negi firmly told the buyer arhtiyas that, if necessary, the government will oversee the sale of apples on a per kilogram basis under the supervision of law and order.
The government’s stringent positioning towards the arhtiyas triggered the protest, and they have now decided to go on strike. While the government aims to protect the interests of growers, the arhtiyas have expressed their reservations in adhering to the governmental order.
In a media statement, the arhtiyas association clarified that they are not against the order but have requested that its implementation be postponed until the following year. They argue that they need time to prepare for this change, explaining that the frequent loading and unloading of produce for weighing not only compromises the quality but also consumes a significant amount of time. This delay further impacts their ability to transport the produce to other Mandis promptly.
How is it even practically possible to weigh say 10,000 boxes of apples?” lamented an Apple agent. “It will take hours of human labor to do so, and the entire consignment will be delayed,” he added.
“The only solution is to postpone this norm until next year, and from then onwards, apples can be packed in 22 Kg cartons, eliminating the need for weighing and enabling hassle-free transportation to other mandis, he suggested
Meanwhile, the growers have expressed their approval of the government’s decision to sell apples on a kilogram basis, and they are content with the new regulation. However, they are concerned about the reluctance of brokers to buy apples based on weight. They urge the government to find a swift resolution to the strike called by the Aahrtiyas to ensure the smooth functioning of the apple market.
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