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New Zealand to help Himachal in apple cultivation

Shimla, Nov 26 (IANS) New Zealand will help Himachal Pradesh, the country's main apple basket, in horticulture by providing expertise and technology, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said here Monday.

"New Zealand has agreed to collaborate with the state in technology transfer in horticulture and agriculture sectors," said an official statement quoting Dhumal.

A business delegation headed by New Zealand's Primary Industries Minister David Carter called on Dhumal here.

Apples are the mainstay of the state's economy, with more than 200,000 families engaged in its cultivation. The apple industry is worth over Rs.2,000 crore.

Dhumal said the state had an apple yield of only four to nine tonnes per hectare as compared to over 25 tonnes per hectare in New Zealand.

"We would import quality and early variety root−stock of apple from New Zealand for multiplication in different laboratories and distribution among horticulturists," the chief minister said.

Dhumal said the state was keen to get technical know−how in creating irrigation and cold chain facilities in the fruit−growing areas. Fruit processing was another industry where New Zealand could lend its support.

The apple season in the state ended this month, with the total production being around 20 percent less than the normal of 2.50 crore boxes of 20 kg each.

But the season's yield was higher than the last year's production of 1.4 crore boxes.

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