Srinagar, Nov 16: A total of 7267MT of apples have been imported from Iran and Afghanistan during the last 35 days to India’s biggest fruit market Azadpur against 89000 MTs of Kashmiri apple during the same period.
As per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the valley fruit growers and dealers have been claiming that the flow of Iranian apples reduced the demand for Kashmiri apples by more than 40 percent.
Following the claims of heavy losses to Kashmir’s horticulture made by the valley fruit growers, authorities initiated an exercise to assess the quantity of imports coming from Iran and Afghanistan.
As per the figures accessed by KNO, in last 35 days (October 10- November15), a total of 29 MT of apples have been exported from Iran to India’s biggest fruit market Azadpur Mandi New Delhi.
Official figures said that during these 35 days, a total of 89000MT of apples were shipped from the valley to Azadpur mandi.
Simultaneously, from Afghanistan, a total of 7238 MT of apples were imported to Azadpur fruit mandi during these 35 days.
Deputy Director Central, Horticulture, Planning and Marketing department, Manzoor Ahmad Mir told KNO that so far the valley’s fruit industry has not had any impact due to the flow of Iranian and Afghani apples.
“Our country has a free trade policy with Afghanistan and during the last 35 days 7238MT of apples have been imported from the country. From Iran, which is imposed with export duty, exported 29MT of apples. During the same time Kashmir shipped 89000MT of apples, which suggested that these imports from both these countries are comparatively less than the quantity of apples shipped from Kashmir,” he said.
Mir said the market demand for Kashmir apple this year has been on a higher side. “We had a better market demand for Kashmiri apples this year. Our growers got better rates in different markets of India, ” he said.
Meanwhile, the growers and dealers have shot a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking attention over the flow of Iranian apples via Wagah border.
The apple growers and dealers’ association in the letter expressed their apprehension of suffering heavy losses due to the invasion by Iranian apples.
“Heavy Flow of Iranian apple in the name of Afghanistan via Wagah Border in the Indian Markets has again started bothering valley fruit growers who are already having apprehensions of suffering heavy losses. The Valley based fruit growers who were hopeful of compensating their losses during festive season, are now again pushed into mental agony,” the letter reads.
The KVFGDU in the letter mentioned that the rates of Garde ‘A’ Kashmir apples has reduced by Rs 600 per box. “Only two weeks ago, Kashmiri Apple box would sell at Rs. 1000-1300 per box in various fruit markets of India but now the same sells at Rs.800 per box. The Valley Based Fruit Growers are, therefore, extremely worried of the situation,” it said.
The apple growers and dealers’ union in the letter highlighted that the heavy flow of Iranian Apple is not only disastrous for small and marginal growers of Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand “but also results in huge losses to state exchequer.”
The apple growers and dealers have appealed to the Prime Minister to ban the import or impose 100 percent excise duty on Iranian apples.
“Under the circumstances explained above the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union which is an elected apex body of all Fruit Growers Associations of the valley appeal your goodself kindly consider imposition of ban or alternatively imposition of 100 % excise duty on arrival of Iranian Apple in the Indian Markets so that the Fruit Growers of Valley, Himachal and Uttarakhand will feel a sigh of relief,” the letter reads.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. Horticulture contributes eight percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation—(KNO)