Will picket your stores in winter, Himachal apple growers threaten Adani AgroFresh

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Apple growers are unhappy over Adani Agrofresh setting arbitrary prices of apples, which has led to market fluctuation

Apple growers in Himachal Pradesh August 25, 2022 gave an ultimatum to Adani AgroFresh to revise its rates for procuring the fruits in a week’s time. The farmers would picket Adani stores during winter if their demands are not complied with, Sanjay Chauhan, a leader of the cultivators, told this reporter.

The growers had gheraoed Adani AgroFresh’s stores at three locations in Shimla namely Dahali, Bithal and Sainj August 25

The farmers, led by the Sanyukt Kisan Manch, comprising 30 organisations associated with apple horticulture, had planned the gherao after Adani AgroFresh recently announced the prices of apple procurement.

The announcement took place on the day when a high power government committee was formed to fix the prices of apples.

The committee had been formed after growers had gheraoed the state Secretariat to protest against Goods and Service Tax rates and hike in the prices of packaging material. After this, the farmers had organised a jail bharo movement.

Harish Chauhan, president of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch, told this reporter that the company was misleading horticulturists and the government.

He said Adani Agrofresh was one of the largest buyers of apples in Himachal Pradesh and the prices fixed by it would have a profound impact on market prices. Top Adani officials also did not attend the meeting called by the committee August 23.

Prashant Sehata, general secretary of the Young and United Progressive Association, told this reporter that Adani AgroFresh bought fruits at different rates by dividing them into several grades according to their colour and size.

This time too, Adani AgroFresh has set a target of procuring around 25,000 metric tonnes of apples from apple growers in Himachal Pradesh.

Sehata said Adani AgroFresh’s opening rates for apples this year were 12-15 per cent less than last year. Last year, the company had kept the maximum price at Rs 85 per kg, while this time the rate is Rs 76. This, even as the cost of apple production has increased by more than 30 per cent, compared to last year.

He added that the company should have increased the rate of apples on the same lines.

The farmers have noted that this year’s crop has fruits of smaller size which are less colourful. In such a situation, Adani, which buys apples on the basis of colour is sure to get a lower price.

“A 25 kg box of apples that are more or less colourful, is being sold in large to small sizes at rates ranging from Rs 1,700-2,300. The average price of this comes to Rs 68-92.

Even if the cost of packing is excluded, the average rate gets to Rs 62-85. On this basis, if we take the average rate of Adani AgroFresh, it comes to around Rs 60-70 in both grades,” Sehata said.

Ashutosh Chauhan, an apple grower from Ratnadi, an apple-growing area, said Adani AgroFresh’s opening rate has had a very bad effect on the market.

“As soon as the company opened rates August 13 this time, apple prices fell by Rs 400-500 in the market the next day. While last year, this decline was up to Rs 1,000,” Chauhan said.

He said there should be uniformity in the prices of apples and arbitrary prices being fixed by private companies should be regulated by the government.

The meeting of the high power committee headed by the vice-chancellor of Nauni University was held August 23 to decide the prices of apples. Representatives of eight big procurers of apples had been called, but only eight attended.

Sanjay Chauhan, co-convenor of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch, said the companies do not take the instructions of the committee and government seriously. Therefore, representatives of most companies did not attend.

“During the meeting, when the agreements and terms and conditions signed with big companies like Adani were sought, neither the government nor the companies showed any memorandum of understanding,” he said.

Chauhan added that the companies are doing as they please due to a lack of any rules and regulations. “Now, we will not accept the whims of the companies and will intensify our movement further,” he said.

Rajeshwar Singh Chandel, chairman of the committee formed to fix the price of apples, said the companies who did not come to the meeting, would be asked to respond.

Apart from this, Adani AgroFresh will also be asked to respond about apple rates. Apart from this, the demands of the farmers are being considered by the committee.

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