SRINAGAR, Nov 17: The fruit growers of Kashmir have sought a ban on the influx of Iranian apples or the imposition of 100 per cent excise duty, stating that it is proving to be disastrous for them, apart from causing losses to the state exchequer.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and LG Manoj Sinha, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union expressed concern about the heavy flow of Iranian apples, masquerading as being from Afghanistan via Wagah Border, in Indian markets.
“They (fruit growers) are already anticipating significant losses and had hoped that their losses would be compensated during the sacred festivals in various markets across the country. However, these hopes have been dashed due to the arrival of Iranian apples, labeled as Afghan, in the various markets of the country,” they said.
They further noted that the influx of Iranian apples through Wagah Border has led to a decrease in the rates of Grade-A Kashmiri apples by more than Rs. 600 per box.
“Just two weeks ago, a box of Kashmiri apples would sell for Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1300 in various fruit markets of India. Now, the same is being sold at Rs. 800 per box, which is not even covering the actual costs, let alone any profit. The valley-based fruit growers are extremely worried about this situation,” the fruit growers stated.
The aggrieved growers, apart from writing the letter to the PM and the LG, have also dispatched the same to the Union Agriculture Minister, Union Foreign Minister, and Union Industries & Commerce Minister.
The Union has stated that about 80% of the rural population of J&K (UT) is directly or indirectly dependent on this sector, and the arrival of Iranian apples in the Indian markets has put the fruit industry of J&K (UT), Himachal and Uttarakhand in a precarious situation, causing mental agony for small and marginal fruit growers.
It has been noted that drought, untimely heavy hailstorm, and strong winds have already severely damaged the fruit orchards of the Valley, and as a result, the apple crop has been graded as Grade 2 & Grade 3, amounting to only 40% of the total crop, underlining their apprehension about heavy losses to their apple crop.
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