Shimla, Jan 29: With snow, the natural manure, for apple cultivation, continuing to elude Himachal Pradesh, the production of the fruit is estimated to have fallen by 50 per cent in the state this season, to the dismay of people involved in this approximately Rs 1,500 crore annual trade.
"This is an unprecedented drought-like situation. I have never seen such a hostile condition for apple cultivation in the past 40-50 years," Horticulture Minister Singhi Ram told PTI today.
Describing the present weather condition as a "big setback" for apple farmers, the Minister said the state government has ordered a survey by Agriculture department officials about the extent of the loss.
The estimated loss of apple crop due to lack of snow so far particularly in lower and mid-hills was roughly 50 per cent, Vice-Chancellor of Horticulture Research Institute, Solan, Jagmohan Singh said.
Horticulture department sources said though an official figure was yet to come, the estimated loss of apple production is big.
The winter season has witnessed only six centimetre snow so far while January is about to end.
Based on the trend, the weather office does not expect much snowfall in near future.
Total production of apple in the state in 2005 was 5.40 lakh tonnes which came down to 2.68 lakh metric tonnes last year.