Hike in apple box prices worries growers in Kashmir

A worker posing with an apple box in a factory in Pulwama. -Excelsior/Younis Khaliq
A worker posing with an apple box in a factory in Pulwama. -Excelsior/Younis Khaliq

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Aug 9: Apple growers of Kashmir are concerned about recent price hike for apple boxes and other material due to which  cost of packing has increased by nearly fifty percent.
The apple growers informed the Excelsior that the considerable price increase has hurt their business because their selling price has remained the same. According to them, price increases were typically between 1% and 2% annually, which was tolerable, but this year’s increase has been far higher.
The growers said that a wooden box that once cost them between Rs 50 and Rs 60 is now being sold for about Rs 110, which is double the price. Additionally, the cost of a cardboard box has gone from Rs 35–40 to Rs 60–70. “This has raised our production costs, while the selling price has remained the same,” President of the Sopore Fruit Growers’ Association, Fayaz Ahmad Malik, told Excelsior.
He continued that while rates have remained the same, the cost of fertilizers and pesticides has also doubled over time. “Our prospects of making a profit are decreased because our production costs are the same as the product’s selling price after transportation expenses,” he said.
The growers claimed that essential packaging materials, such as paper and grass, have also increased significantly. “There is a dearth of locally recycled paper and rising costs of imported paper. Therefore, the manufacturers are forced to raise the prices,” a grower said.
The growers claimed that suppliers hoard the material and sell it at inflated prices because the industry is highly unregulated, “Lack of monitoring enables suppliers to stock the goods and charge higher prices,” he said.
The growers seek the establishment of a monitoring committee so that the suppliers may sell the packaging material at set pricing. “This would prevent the vendors from selling the material at desired prices,” they said.