Apple crop contributes immensely to the State economy and to boost its production, the state horticulture department introducing high yielding varieties and strengthening the marketing network with active co-operation of the growers.
Undoubtedly, the apple has brought prosperity to the State which is contributing around Rs. 3200 Crore to the State Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Apple mainly cultivated in Shimla, Kullu, Kinnaur, Chamba and Mandi districts of the State and during the recent past, there has been an increasing interest and trend in production of apples not only in high hill areas but exhaustive research by horticulture scientists also motivating farmers of the lower parts of the State to cultivate apple plants.
The area under apple has increased from 84112 hectare in 2003-04 to 86202 hectare in 2004-05, 88560 hectares in 2005-06 to 91804 hectares in 2006-07, 94726 hectares in 2007-08 to 97438 hectares in 2008-09, 99564 hectares in 2009-10 and 103644 hectares in 2010-11 to 103644 hectares in 2011-12. Similarly, the production of apple has also increased from 459492 MT in 2003-04 to 527601 MT in 2004-05, 540356 MT in 2005-06 to 268402 MT in 2006-07, 592576 MT in 2007-08 to 510161MT in 2008-09, 280105 MT in 2009-10 to 892112 MT in 2010-11 and 275036 MT in 2011-12 in the State. Although, quality apples can normally be grown in areas located at altitudes ranging between 1800-2700 m above main sea level which experience 1000-1600 chilling hours during winter and average temperature during growing season remains around 21-24 degree Celsius.
To enhance apple productivity, guidelines for ‘Apple Rejuvenation Project’ have been simplified. The project is being implemented under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, under which old apple orchards are being rejuvenated and replaced with the new, improved and regular bearing spur varieties. 1500 hectare area is being brought under revamped ‘Apple Rejuvenation Project’ during year 2014-15. Orchards covered under the scheme will necessarily have 30 percent pollenisers and micro irrigation facilities. An additional area of 1000 hectare is being covered under micro-irrigation during 2014-15.
To protect fruit crops especially apple from hailstorms, the State Government has enhanced subsidy on Anti Hail nets from 50 percent to 80 percent out of which 30 percent is being borne by the State Government. An area of 23.5 Lakh sq. meters was covered under anti hail nets during 2013 to May 2014. During the year 2014-15, additional area of 15 lakh square meters is being brought under protection from hail storm by providing quality Anti-Hail Nets to the orchardists.
To ensure remunerative prices of apple produce of growers, 34229 MT ‘C’ grade apple fruit valued to Rs. 22.25 crore was procured under Market Intervention Scheme during 2013-14. The procurement price of apple has been increase by 50 paise per kg under MIS over the previous year.