Skip to main content

An Adani jolt? Himachal farmers 'forced to sell' apples at prices lower than 2020

By Bharat Dogra* 

On August 16 protests of apple growers resumed in Himachal Pradesh after a 10-day ultimatum to the government by the apple growers did not bring a satisfactory response. On August 5 following a big agitation the protesting apple growers had given this ultimatum to the state government to resolve their problems within 10 days.
Harish Chauhan, convener of Saunkta Kisan Manch, said on August 16 that the organization will start its jail bharo or court arrest programme the next day.
This appears to be a very important moment in the emergence of a more sustained movement of farmers and orchard owners in Himachal Pradesh. During the prolonged agitation of farmers which continued for almost a year in 2020-21, the adverse impact of big business houses on farmers and marketing of farm produce had emerged as perhaps the biggest issue. Now this issue is making waves in Himachal Pradesh in the context of its apple economy.
Himachal Pradesh has a border with all the three foremost states/regions of the farmers’ movement—Punjab, Haryana and Western UP. So some impact of the movement had also reached this Himalayan state then also but this was not a very big impact. The visit of Rakesh Tikait, a prominent leader of farmers from Western UP, had helped to bring this movement to Himachal Pradesh but this was only a small beginning.
More recently 27 farmer organizations in Himachal, with a prominent role of apple growers, had mobilized to raise several demands relating to apple orchards in particular. This Sanyukta Kisan Manch (SKM) had organized a big protest on August 5, presenting several demands and said that a bigger protest movement will start after about ten days (after August 15) if these demands are not met. Just before this, things have heated up with complaints about the role of big business houses.
The recently voiced complaints of SKM and apple growers are actually not very different from the complaints voiced last year too at the time of the apple harvesting season by several apple growers and their representatives. However at that time the apple growers were not so well mobilized and so the complaint had not attracted so much attention.
The state government in the BJP ruled state has propagated the growing role of big business houses in apple purchase in a very positive light and had claimed credit for speeding up the process of giving NOCs so that big business houses could enter the trade and purchase system which the government said will result in the apple growers receiving a higher price. 
However, at the ground level things took a different turn and apple-growers started complaining about a lower opening price and arbitrary gradation of apples to deny them a fair price.
Similar complaints are being made more forcefully now. On August 14 Sanjay Chauhan, co-convener of SKM, said, new opening prices announced now have made it clear that the government is working under pressure from Adani and other companies.
Adani Agri Fresh is reportedly one of the biggest corporate buyers of apples in Himachal. It owns three controlled atmospheric pressure stores in Himachal Pradesh, including one in Sainj and another in Rohru. The markets had crashed drastically last year after Adani Agri Fresh opened its price.
Adanis announced opening price for A-grade premium apples at Rs 72 per kg, much lower than Rs 88 per kg it offered in 2020
Last year, the Rs 5,500 crore apple business, which mostly runs on the fee market model, is said to have dealt a major setback right at the beginning of the season when the Adani group announced its opening price for A-grade premium quality apples at just Rs 72 per kg, much lower than the Rs 88 per kg it offered in 2020.
With this year’s opening being around Rs 76 for premium A-grade apples, the apple growers are angry that despite the all-round rise in production and packaging costs during the last two years as well as several adverse weather conditions, they may have to sell at prices lower than in 2020. They are also upset that the assurances given to them regarding a committee, also including their representatives, having a major say in determining price is not being honored in the right spirit.
On August 16 the SKM pointed out that clearly the earlier assurances regarding giving a key role to this committee, to be headed by the vice-chancellor, University of Horticulture and Forestry, and expected to protect the interests of apple-growers, have not been kept.
This is election year in Himachal Pradesh and the three main opposition parties -- the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the CPM -- are all extending their support to apple-growers. They and the SKM also realize that now may be the most favorable time to convince or compel the government to accept most of their demands.
Several other farmers are also agitated because of big losses from adverse weather conditions not being compensated adequately and lack of proper rehabilitation and compensation for those whose land has been taken over for various development projects, particularly four lane roads. Hence it appears quite likely that the protest actions of apple growers and other farmers will escalate in the coming days till their demands are substantially met.
---
*Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; recent books include ‘A Day in 2071’, ‘Man over Machine’ and ‘India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food’

Comments

TRENDING

AMR: A gathering storm that threatens a century of progress in medicine

By Bobby Ramakant*  A strategic roundtable on “Charting a new path forward for global action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)” was organised at the 77th World Health Assembly or WHA (WHA is the apex decision-making body of the World Health Organization – WHO, which is attended by all countries that are part of the WHO – a United Nations health agency). AMR is among the top-10 global health threats “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a growing and urgent crisis which is already a leading cause of untimely deaths globally. More than 2 people die of AMR every single minute,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “AMR threatens to unwind centuries of progress in human health, animal health, and other sectors.”

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Ram Teri Ganga Maili: How to maintain ethics in a polluted environment?

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  Is the holy Ganges getting more polluted every day? In addition to daily rituals, bathing, and religious activities performed on its banks, since ancient times, the new age industrial and population pressures are increasingly polluting the holy river. Over the decades a number of government schemes, rules and regulations to purify the Ganges have met with limited success.

Top Punjab Maoist who failed to analyse caste question, promoted economism

By Harsh Thakor*  On June 15th we commemorated the 15th death anniversary of Harbhajan Singh Sohi or HBS, a well known Communist leader in Punjab. He expired of a heart attack in Bathinda in 2009.