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To raise apple production in HP with global standards

Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and some areas of Uttarakhand and UP are the major apple producing states of India. Albeit these states are responsible to contributing above 90% of the total apple production of the country, they are far behind their international peers like Australia, New Zealand, USA and some European Countries while it comes to apple produced per hectare. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) felt the need to step into the terrain of Himachal Pradesh to connect the missinglinks. CSR activities have started gaining momentum in the corporate circles with all the major corporates trying to finalise the CSR policy of their respective organisations. Yet, there are a few corporates that are still in dilemma how to initiate and design the CSR policy while for few it’s a distant dream. Amidst all these, the New Companies Act, 2013 has clearly outlined the list of activities to be taken up for CSR activities under Schedule V11 and Section 135 of the Act.

Now, the bigger challenge is to design a clear cut strategy and policy for the organisation for CSR . The policy must be people driven as there must be common interest among all the interrelated people to own this policy. The organisation must identify the set of activities it would take up as priority areas.The identified priority areas may match with companies’ present activities and in line with Schedule V11. Apart from this, the company must see how the other activities of Schedule V11 canalso be brought under the ambit of their CSR policy and programmes. In this article I would like to highlight a project funded by Container Corporation of India (CONCOR ) in the State of Himachal Pradesh. The CSR project is based on “Apple management” focusing to improve the quality and productivity of Apples in Shimla, Kullu and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh.

Background

Apple is the most important temperate fruit of the northwestern Himalayan region in India. It is predominantly grown in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and some hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh accounting to about 90% of the total production. In Himachal Pradesh, the Apple production starts from upper Shimla till the higher altitudes. The applegrowing areas in India do not fall in the temperate zone of the world but the prevailing temperate climate of the region is primarily due to snow covered Himalayan ranges and high altitude which helps meet the chilling requirement during winter season extending from mid-December to mid-March. The apple production in India is 7-8 tons per hectare whereas globally in countries like Australia, New Zealand, USA and European countries it ranges from 60 to 70 tons per hectare. Even in China, it is 2.5 times more than India. Though the climatic conditions and farming techniques in these countries are different, but a lot can be done and productivity can be doubled from the present production if India adopts an approach which is integrated in nature. There are some fundamental problems in the apple growing regions of Himachal Pradesh spanning from scarcity of water, absence of good agricultural practices, absence of technological solutions, ineffective management of apple orchards, absence of quality training and capacity building etc. A holistic solution was needed which could address the larger issues of the region and would bring changes in the lives of the community

Project approach

The larger issues related to apple management in the state of Himachal Pradesh was studied in detail. Detailed survey was carried in the Apple growing areas of Himachal Pradesh to understand the problems related to Apples. A detailed document was devised accordingly. The problems and the possible set of solutions were shared with the funding agency and they readily accepted the idea and accordingly the project was conceptualised. The project duration is for three year starting from April 2013 – March 2016.

Project Interventions

The project interventions were designed keeping the need of the community, region, global scenarios and prevalent practices.

Activities

1. Rainwater Harvesting Solutions.

2. Introduction of high yielding Apple variety which is good in colour and size.

3. Mechanisation solutions

4.Training and capacity building with engagement of national and International experts for specific inputs on apple orchard management.

5. Establishment of Knowledge cum Recreational centre. The above interventions were linked with each other and were integrated in nature which helped to achieve the set objectives.

Outcome and impact of the project

The project has covered more than 3000 people with various interventions like water solutions, mechanised solutions, training and capacity building, IT solutions with market linkages. The community is now self-capable to handle the technologies provided to them for improving apple practices on the field. The training programmes have helped to improve their practices for apple management. The project has introduced low cost water solutions through rain water harvesting solutions for apple growers. This is a new concept for the apple growers of Himachal Pradesh which is helping to provide water for the apple orchards throughout the year. The community is now self-capable to handle the technologies and solutions provided to them.

Project Success

The success of any project depends on participation of all stakeholders. This project ensured participation of all the stakeholders from the very inception, engagement of the stakeholders in the decision making led to the ownership of the project. The solutions provided for the community were discussed in detail and accordingly, through an engagement process, all the technologies and solutions were provided to the community which eventually resulted in becoming a part of their lives. The community is now fully trained to handle all the technologies and solutions provided to them under this CSR project.

Way forward

The CSR project supported by CON - COR is unique in nature as it addresses the larger issues of the country to compete globally in the field of agriculture and horticulture. The project focuses on apple crop with interventions of water, improved mechanisation, IT solutions, training with market linkages. The fruit in India faces stiff competition globally. India majorly grows the red delicious variety in Himachal Pradesh along with one or two more varieties. This is a challenging situation as globally the major apple growing countries like USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, China grow many varieties as per the market demand. The project visualised a unique challenge that India faces and developed a project which benefits the community and is beneficial for our country. Corporate sector has an opportunity to support similar projects which are of national interest and are accepted by the community. This provides a very good visibility for the corporate sector in terms of community development, brand visibility and nation building.

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