Baramulla: As apple packaging costs have seen an extraordinary surge, fruit growers are staring at losses.
According to apple growers, a carton box of apples costs Rs 100–110 this year, compared to Rs 55–60 the previous year. They claimed that the growers had been negatively impacted by the unexpected hike of Rs 50 per box.
Fruit grower Muhammad Shaban from Rafiabad Baramulla said, "The increase of 1 to 2 percent can be accepted, but 50 percent increase is startling."
Growers expressed dissatisfaction at the government's inability to control packaging prices but claimed that by staying out of the situation, the state administration has granted some people the power to raise carton pricing as they see fit.
Apple growers have been severely hampered by the drastic increase, according to Achabal Rafiabad fruit grower Ajaz Ahmad. “The two years of the pandemic has already devastated the fruit sector and now enormous hike on cartons by the makers is another blow to the growers,” added Aijaz.
The price increase for the raw material is used as justification by the carton manufacturers. They say that the price increase was also exacerbated by a scarcity of raw materials. "The spontaneous increase in the raw material is the cause of the carton price hike. The scarcity of the raw material also compelled producers to raise the price," they said.
The President Fruit Growers Association Sopore, Fayaz Ahmad, termed the situation extremely grim for fruit growers.
According to Fayaz, more than a hundred trucks carry various varieites of apple leaves from Fruit Mandi Sopore to various states of the nation on average. According to him, the growers are not receiving the expected profits due to the increase in apple cartons prices, and as a result, they are in a dire situation.
"Apple box prices are expected to rise more if the administration does not intervene." Fayaz Ahmad continued, "The state administration needs to lower the GST pricing on the raw material of the cartons in order to assure stability in the price of apple cartons.