In the Shimla Assembly, Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Minister Jagat Singh Negi declared that apples would be packaged in universal cartons starting from the next year. This announcement came during a discussion initiated by Congress MLA Kuldeep Singh Rathore regarding the adoption of universal carton packaging.
Minister Negi emphasized that the shift to universal cartons for apples in Himachal Pradesh would be rigorously enforced. He praised the discussion on universal carton usage and the sale of apples by weight but mentioned that the state government had to defer its decision.
Telescopic cartons for apple packing would be completely banned, with a transition to selling apples by weight. This year, the state government decided to sell apples based on weight, benefiting growers.
Negi explained that due to surplus stocks of telescopic cartons among apple growers and traders, the government allowed the sale of apples in telescopic cartons and crates based on weight. This weight-based selling approach would also be extended to other states, and the matter was being discussed with other state governments. If other states failed to implement it, Himachal Pradesh’s government would consider taking the matter to the High Court.
The Minister highlighted that selling apples by weight had yielded higher prices this time, with gardeners receiving up to Rs 4,000 per box. He refuted the allegations made by legislator Kuleep Rathore, stating that apples were already being sold by weight in all markets, with Rs 22 lakh in fines imposed on brokers who violated these rules.
Negi stressed that both the APMC and Revenue Department officials were assigned to ensure strict implementation of this decision. Initially, there was opposition from brokers, but gardeners now supported the practice of selling apples by weight.
He explained the differences between telescopic and universal cartons, noting that universal cartons were single-piece and could hold around 23 kg of apples, whereas telescopic cartons were in two pieces and had a capacity of 30 to 35 kg. To prevent overfilling, the government had imposed a 24 kg per box limit. Universal cartons would be enforced from the next season.
Kuldeep Rathore had initially raised the issue of implementing universal carton packaging under Rule 61 in the assembly, emphasizing that it would eliminate confusion among gardeners. He lauded the historic decision to sell apples based on weight and urged the government to enforce strict regulations.
Minister Negi also highlighted the negative impact of the G-20 conference, which cost apple-producing states, including Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir, and Uttarakhand, significant losses. He mentioned that the Central Government had reduced the import duty on apples from 75 percent to 50 percent, potentially causing further harm to apple-producing states. The shifting import policies posed a challenge to the apple industry in India.