Kisan Sanyukt Manch, an apolitical forum of the apple growers, and Chuwara Apple Valley Society have been contacting growers over the last couple of months to make them aware of the growing challenges in apple cultivation and encourage them to join the protest. “We are contacting small and marginal growers in different village personally or telephonically. We are also using social media to make growers aware of the growing challenges,” said Sanjeev Thakur, president, Chuwara Apple Valley Society.
Tomorrow, apple growers will demonstrate against the increased cost of packaging supplies and the overall increase in input costs over the past few years at a number of locations in upper Shimla. “This year’s price increase for packaging supplies is exceptional. Tray prices have increased by about Rs 3 per piece, and carton prices have climbed by about Rs 80. It is taking advantage of apple farmers. Together, they must speak out, said CPM MLA Rakesh Singha.
“There’s no way left other than taking to the street now. The cost of carton has gone up by Rs 15 and the trays by Rs 200 per bundle. Add to it, there is huge increase in the cost of fungicide, insecticide and all fertilizers, mainly calcium nitrate. If this increase in input cost is not checked, apple cultivation will become unsustainable,” he said. It’s against this sustained increase in input cost that the apple growers have planned a protest at various places, mainly Rohru and Theog. “We are expecting around 1,000-1,500 growers in Rohru alone for the protest. We might intensify the protest into hunger strike as well,” he said.