Majid Kapra

Fruit growers appeal Govt to stop import of Iranian apple

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“If ‘Make in India’ is the slogan, why not ‘Produce in India’?”

SRINAGAR, Jan 12: The Valley based apple growers Wednesday appealed the Central Government to stop ‘import’ of Iranian apple saying, it has impacted the sale of locally produced apple by 50 percent.

Addressing a press conference here, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers’ cum Dealers Union (KVFGDU) said the local apple growers have incurred losses worth crores ever since the Federal Government gave nod to the import of tax-free Iranian apple in India.

“The apple growers from Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have incurred losses worth crores ever since the Iranian apple was introduced in the market. The sale of Kashmiri produce has been affected by 50 percent as the Iranian apple being tax-free is sold at cheaper rates in India,” Bashir Ahmad, Chairman KVFGDU said.

He said there are around one crore apple boxes lying in cold stores and warehouses as the sale of Iranian apples has affected local produce in the Indian market.

“As sanctions are intact on Iran, they sell apples at cheaper rates. Our expenditures are high and therefore can’t compete with those rates,” he said.

He said that the rates of Kashmiri apples have declined to Rs 1200 per box to Rs 600 in the past few days in the Mandi’s.

He questioned, “The production cost of one apple box is Rs 600, moreover the transport charges costs Rs 300 per box,” he said. “The GST has increased from 12 percent to 18 percent. How can a grower sell his production at such low rates?”

He said that despite repeated requests, the GoI has not paid any heed to the matter, leaving the apple growers in lurch.

“We met the Union Agriculture Minister but he didn’t take any action to stop the supply. Then we wrote to the Prime Minister, LG office, but to no avail,” he said.

“If PM Modi talks about ‘Make in India’why not ‘Produce in India’? Why are we importing goods from outside when we have our own production,” he said.

He said that the horticulture industry is the backbone of Jammu and Kashmirand the government must make sure to safeguard this sector.

“This is the only sector that has survived in all these years of turmoil. Around 70 to 80 percent of the population is associated with this industry and earning its livelihood from it,” he said.

“The import of Iranian apples has also affected the growers of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh equally,” he said, adding, since the production of apples was high in 2021, huge losses were suffered by the growers as 50 percent production remained unsold and is rotting.

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