The import of apples, apparently unregulated, from Iran is causing heavy losses to farmers in J&K and Himachal Pradesh.
The Apple growers in Jammu and Kashmir have been seeking intervention to prevent the huge losses incurred due to the Iranian imports.
Recently, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers Association and New Kashmir Fruit Association traders outside Kashmir have imported huge quantities of apples from Iran at cheap rates due to the sanctions on Tehran.
While Iranian apples are selling cheap, as per the Traders, they cannot match the quality of Kashmiri apples
As a consequence, apples are fetching less than half the market price. The traders say have met Union agriculture minister, have send letter to the Prime Minister, L-G office, but to no avail.
J&K is the biggest producer of apples in this part of the globe, followed by Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It ensures livelihoods of lakhs of people who are directly or indirectly depend on the apple cultivation.
With the cheaper Iranian variety flooding the Indian market, local apple growers in Kashmir are struggling to compete in view of rampant under-invoicing of the imports. Most of the orchardists are demanding a blanket ban on these imports, while others are seeking the imposition of 100 per cent duty.
Not only imports, the growers are also apprehensive that Iranian apples may trigger pest infestation.
Apple is a popular fruit that remains in demand throughout the year. While indigenous apple industry is grappling to stay afloat, there is need to support it to sustain various odds.
In the spring of 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic lockdown fruit growers couldn’t visit their orchards to spray pesticides. This, according to them, led to scab diseases affecting around 60 per cent of the crop.
And now Kashmir’s apple industry is facing another challenge due to the unregulated import of Iranian apples.
Thousands of growers had stored their produce in cold storage to send it to outside markets in March and April. However, due to the unregulated import of Iranian apples, there are no buyers of Kashmiri apples.
As per officials this year the valley saw 21.50 lakh MT apple production and still 1.87 lakh MT are still in the cold stores.
The government should intervene to regulate the import of apples after making an accurate assessment of the demand-supply gap.