Sweet crunch: CONCOR to manage Kinnaur, Kullu apple orchards as CSR

Container Corporation of India and TERI to jointly undertake holistic village development programme in Kinnaur and Kullu districts

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | August 21, 2013



Giving a fresh kiss of life to the famed Himachal apples, the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) has decided to undertake apple orchard management programme in two high-yielding districts of the state as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

The project would reduce wastage of the apple crop, raise storage levels and help farmers sell the fruit during peak seasons as well, according to top officials of the company and the state’s chief minister. The project would be implemented in three phases over three years and cover villages of Kinnaur and Kullu districts, it was informed.

CONCOR is implementing this programme in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh launched the programme in the national capital on August 19.

The project assumes significance in light of several problems faced by farmers in the region. These range from water scarcity to lack of technological solutions, ineffective management of apple orchards, absence of quality training and capacity building.

Virbhadra Singh said the project would complement efforts of the state government in “capacity building of orchardists (or owners) and improving orchard management technology” through improved irrigation and mechanisation. He said this would give a leg-up to the state’s apple economy.

“Nearly 38 percent of India’s total crop (apple) is grown in Himachal. But production fluctuates every year and productivity remains low, as compared to advanced countries,” Singh said. This project with CONCOR, he added, would prove beneficial to the farmers and raise the yield.

Anil Kumar Gupta, chairman and managing director of CONCOR, said the PSU is already working on the sector for the last six years through its subsidiary, Fresh & Healthy Enterprises, popularising premium apple produces of HP by providing cold chain logistics. “This project would ensure farmers are benefitted and we would be able to compete with the imported apples,” he said.

Gupta also highlighted that the crop should ideally be stored within 24 hours after harvest, but with plenty of fruits not stored thus, they go waste. This project, he added, would ensure that the crop is stored and taken out during peak season.

Clusters of five to seven villages have been identified to develop model clusters in phases. National and international experts would help the villagers learn about apple orchard management as part of the project’s focus on training and capacity building, it was informed.

Speaking about the project, TERI director-general RK Pachauri said Himachal Pradesh is a major producer of apples in India but there is a need to improve productivity and quality of produce. “This project can prove to be a game changer for horticulture in Himachal Pradesh,” he said. “If we could improve the quality and productivity of the crop, this would not just help the state but the whole country.”

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