The Arunachal Pradesh Horticulture Farm at Shergaon in West Kameng district is in dire straits needing immediate attention by the government for survival.
The 120-hectare farm, of which 55 hectares have been reserved for apple cultivation, has come to such a pass due to ’lackadaisical’ attitude of the government, officials of the farm alleged.
Producing record quantity of ‘best quality’ apples for years, Shergaon has come to be known as the ‘Apple Bowl’ of Arunachal.
Established in 1977 under the aegis of the North Eastern Council, the farm since then has been catering to the needs of consumers with a record production.
An estimated production of 50 metric tonnes of apple was recorded in the farm during 2009 -10 with a turn-over of Rs 16 lakh.
“Due to sheer negligence on the part of the State government, the farm is on the verge of collapse. Acute fund constraint, lack of adequate infrastructures and shortage of manpower have hit the farm hard,” Y Jini, horticulture development officer of Shergaon, rued.
Moreover, lack of proper nourishment for the apple trees, fertilizers and other basic inputs to maintain the farm are a bottleneck, Mr. Jini said.
Irregularities in providing wages to labourers employed in the farm and the dilapidated barracks they live in are other liabilities which are coming in the way of the officers keeping up the farm in good shape, Mr. Jini lamented.
Horticulturist N Lobsang said that the production of the farm fluctuates and sizes of apple also vary depending on nourishment.
“Shergaon apple has a huge demand in India due to its quality and is needed to be given adequate attention to preserve the farm,” Mr. Lobsang felt.
Expressing concern over the government’s benefit and dissemination programme on horticulture, D K Thungon, a local farmer said that the village people are deprived of various beneficiary schemes.
“Until the government throws down a helpline, the hapless villagers will be nowhere,” he said.
Shergaon is blessed with a rich climatic condition that facilitates good growth of fruits like apple, walnut, peach, pears, cherry and kiwi.
At the same time, there exists a tremendous scope for eco-tourism in the area in future, Mr. Lobsang said.
Apple cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh is mainly concentrated in West Kameng and Lower Subansiri districts though the fruit is of late being grown in West Siang and Anjaw districts too.
During 2008-09 the State recorded a total apple production of 9, 986 MT which shot up to 10, 001 MT in 2009 -10.
The average production of apple in the state during the last five years stood at over 9,500 metric tonnes annually.