Last Updated: July 20, 2023, 00:51 IST
In what could disrupt the apple season in Himachal Pradesh, the arhtiyas (middlemen) in the state have threatened to go on an indefinite strike in major fruit mandis (markets) from Thursday to protest against the government decision to sell apples by weight there. Confirming this, Harish Thakur, president of the state arhtiyas association, said, “We can’t be forced to sell apples by weight.”
The arhtiyas took the decision after the administration and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) on Wednesday issued challans against several commission agents at Parala fruit mandi, the largest of its kind in the state, for not selling the fruit by weight. The agitated arhtiyas stopped trading immediately and later decided to go on an indefinite strike from Thursday.
Following the demand of several apple growers’ associations, the Himachal Pradesh government decided to sell apples by weight instead of the number of boxes in the mandis of the state from this season. The government also capped the weight at 24 kg per box. Arhtiyas said that due to a shortage of space in mandis, it is an improbable proposition to sell the apples by weight.
The state government has, however, denied forcing the decision on the arhtiyas. Officials said that the move to sell by weight came after consultations with all stakeholders. The state government has threatened to take action if the arhityas resort to a strike. It is also contemplating alternative systems for selling the produce.
Farmers’ body Sanyukt Kisan Manch has slammed the arhtiyas for refusing to sell by weight. “Going on strike all of a sudden is against the interests of the growers. A few irresponsible arhtiyas are trying to promote unlawful activities in the mandis and are hurting the apple industry,” said SKM convener Harish Chauhan. “We urge the government to make an alternative arrangement to sell apples.”
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