100-Year Journey of Apple in Himachal
Apple has completed 100 years of its existence in hill state. It has become the biggest economy of Himachal with an annual turnover of about Rs. 4000 crore ever since Satyananda Stokes (Samuel Evans Stokes) introduced apple cultivation in tough geographical conditions of the state in 1916. Satyanand Stokes was so impressed with the natural landscape and culture of Himachal that he left even the idea of returning back to his native country America. He married a local girl from Kotgarh, purchased a chunk of farmland near his wife’s village and settled there. Samuel applied himself to improving the farmland he had purchased and identified a new strain of apples developed by the Stark brothers of Louisiana, United States suitable to Shimla hills. He started cultivating this variety of apple in 1916. The bumper crop coupled with Samuel’s connection to people encouraged other farmers to do what he was was doing. He helped them wholeheartedly in every way. And today apple has become the backbone of Himachal’s economy. Satyanand Stokes was the father-in-law of Senior Congress Leader Vidya Stokes, whose one initiative taken 100 years ago has turned into 4000 crore annual economy. It is ironical that successive Himachal governments, irrespective of which party they belonged to, did not consider it appropriate to honour the initiative of Satayanand Stokes who cultivated the seed of Rs. 4000 crore annual apple economy. But yes, the political parties did not forgot to take benefits of apple by dividing hill state into to parts – Upper and Lower Himachal – on political considerations. But now people of the apple belt have decided to do that government failed to do in many decades. They have decided to celebrate November 6, 2016 as apple centenary in memory of Satyanand Stokes, which is an appreciative initiative. The founder and first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Dr. Y.S. Parmar had also given major contribution to take the initiative of Satyanand Stokes to a higher level to make Himachal a fruit bowl. Dr. Parmar was of the opinion that we have to rise above the linguistic and regional politics in search of happy future of citizens of the state. It was during his tenure that investment in the field of horticulture was identified. It was because of his relentless efforts that many high quality apple varieties were introduced in the state. It was because of the efforts of Satyanand Stokes and Dr. Y. S. Parmar that Himachal today is considered as an apple state. However, besides apple, efforts should have been directed to promote other fruits too that are conducive to the climate and geographical conditions of hill state. However, this did not happen in the state due to political apathy. (The writer is linked to ministerial employees association of horticulture department.)
The man who introduced apple in Himachal Pradesh in 1916. The initiative taken by him 100 years ago has now grown into a big tree with apple business becoming the mainstay of hill economy now with an annual turnover of Rs. 4000 crore.
Provide Patronage to Other Fruits
The climate of Himachal is suitable for mango, kinnow, malta, kiwi, strawberry, cherry, guava, pomegranate, flowers and honey production too. Where the apple business is constantly touching the annual Rs. 4000 crore mark, the production of other fruits and its business failed to touch even Rs. 150 crore mark. It is a serious situation in the backdrop of economic perspective. Therefore it becomes imperative to identify the budget allocated for development and upliftment of horticulture on the basis of area wise fruit production, so that besides apple, production of other fruits too witnesses a growth. There needs to be uniformity in government policies and the budget allocated for horticulture development through these policies. This is possible only if the annual budget is identified as per area and crop.
The state’s ups and downs this week
‘Save Girl Child Caller Tune a Hit’
Una: With an aim to spread awareness about ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign, the Una district administration has launched a cellphone caller tune. It has been uploaded on cellphones of district-level officers and media persons, and is gradually being sought by more and more users. Notably, Una district has the lowest child sex ratio. As per the 2011 Census, there were only 875 girls aged between 0 to 6 against 1,000 boys in Una district, while the ratio in Himachal was 906 females against 1,000 males in the 0-6 age-group. Deputy Commissioner Vikas Labroo said the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign was launched in 2014 in Una district. Intensive awareness workshops in educational institutions, panchayats, mahila mandals, yuvak mandals and other community based organisations are held. On the caller tune, Labroo said since the idea was to keep hitting the mindset of masses regarding the social issue, they decided to launch a caller tune on the theme. He said: “Kanchan Sharma, a BA first year student at SVSD college, Bhatoli, in Una district has given her voice, while Una district public relations officer Gurmit Bedi is the lyricist of the song.” He added that the caller tune was getting popular by the day.
Himachal Lags in Ease of Doing Business
Solan: Despite various steps taken to ease various clearances required for setting up business ventures, the state continues to remain at the 17th position nationally in the Central government’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ (EoDB) initiative. Though there has been a marked improvement in its implementation level from the last year, Himachal has failed to improve its score at the national level. The states have been rated on the basis of 340 parameters which cover various departments. Himachal has earned this score for successfully putting in place environmental registration enablers where it has earned a cent percent score. Others areas like single window clearance system has fetched it barely 10 points which necessitated the need for further easing of clearances in the system. Areas like availability of land, construction of permit enablers and access to transparency and information enablers also required more reforms as they have been rated at less than 10 points. The state continues to lag behind the neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttrakhand and Punjab which have respectively occupied the 6th, 9th and 12th positions nationally.