With the arrival of summer season, apples have become dearer but the quality of the fruit has dropped.
“The apples that were sold at Rs 150 per kg are now being sold at Rs 200 a kg and about 50 per cent of the fruits are spoiled inside though they look in an attractive red colour outside.
Considering it a healthy fruit, many consume apple regularly but the vendors are cheating public by selling rotten ones,” said Suman Ghiya, a homemaker from the city.
The fruit sellers are not able to deliver fresh stock due to lack of proper cold storage facilities and road transport from distant places. However, the rates have been further increased due to the increasing demand in the market.
According to India Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), apples are supposed to be preserved in controlled atmosphere (CA) stores, which were introduced in India 12-15 years ago.
Till now, there are only 50 CA stores in the country and most of them are in north India.
Visakhapatnam does not have a CA store and all the fruit wholesalers preserve the apples in normal cold storage facilities, while the local vendors still use thermocol sheets that are not at all ideal for preserving apples. The fruits kept in thermocol boxes will spoil within 10 days, said Arvind Surange, former president of ISHRAE.
He further said, “The foreign apples stay fresh for 4-5 months in a normal cold storage facility with some loss in the quality part of it. Whereas they remain good up to 7-8 months in CA store. Private parties should come forward to set up these as the government is ready to provide subsidy for building a CA store.”
Apart from cold storage facilities, road transport is another major reason behind the high cost of apples.
The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has not yet granted approval to the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) to import apples. So, the fruit merchants bring them from the nearest ports, mostly Chennai.
The DGFT had restricted all the ports including VPT for the shipment of foreign apple in 2015, but allowed Chennai, Kolkata, Maharashtra and Kochi ports to do so in 2016.
The government had restricted import of apple by allowing its inbound shipment only through Nhava Sheva port in Maharashtra.
So far, several correspondences were made by the VPT seeking the nod from the DGFT and Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The port officials are hopeful of getting the permission soon. Once this happens, city people would get fresh apples at a cheaper price.
Source: Deccan Chronicle