Srinagar, Jan 12: Expressing deep concern over their mounting financial losses, Kashmir’s fruit growers Wednesday appealed Government of India (GoI) to ban the import of untaxed Iranian apples into Indian markets.
Addressing a press conference here today, President of Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers’ Association and New Kashmir Fruit Association Bashir Ahmad Bashir said the supply of Iranian apples in India has severely damaged the rates of Kashmir-produced apples in the market.
“The demand for Kashmiri apples in the country’s Mandis is quite less today owing to the availability of cheap Iranian apples,” he said.
Mr Bashir said the rates of apples have declined from Rs 1200 per box to Rs 600 in the past few days in the mandis.
“The production cost of one apple box is Rs 600, and add to that the transport charges costs Rs 300 per box,” he said, asking, “The GST has increased from 12 percent to 18 percent. Now, how can a grower sell his production at such low rates? ”
Mr Bashir said that despite repeated requests, the Government of India has not paid any heed to towards the matter, leaving the apple growers in a state of mental agony.
“We met Union Agriculture Minister but he didn’t take any action to stop the supply. Then we wrote to Prime Minister, LG office, but to no avail,” he said.
“If PM Modi is a strong advocate for Make in India, then why we are importing goods from outside when we have our own production?,” the president observed, adding that “PM Modi should uphold his own slogan”.
Bashir said that the horticulture industry is the backbone of the Jammu & Kashmir, and government must ensure to safeguard this sector.
“This is the only sector that has survived in all these years of turmoil. Around 70 to 80 percent population are associated with this industry and are earning their livelihood from it,” he said.
Bashir said that, as per their information, many people have dumped the Iranian apples at the ports of Mumbai and Chennai, which they later sell at low rates in the Indian Mandis as compared to Kashmiri apples.
“We have come to know that in Iran, one kg of apple costs Rs 20. So, these people import the apples and then dump them in CA stores here,” he said advocating that there should be a certain import duty imposed on it.
“We appeal Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene into the matter and ban the import of Iranian apples in the market,” Bashir said. —(KNO)