Health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda has reportedly taken up the plight of apple and ginger growers in Himachal who are facing an onslaught of lower priced Chinese produce and alleged dumping with minister of state for commerce Nirmala Sitaraman.
"I have received several representations from horticulturists and farmers in Himachal Pradesh who said they have been hit hard by Chinese apples flooding the local market due to low import duties and garlic being illegally smuggled through Nepal and Bangladesh. The commerce ministry should take up the latter issue with the home ministry," he said in a press statement issued here Thursday.
Both apples and garlic are crucial for the state's economy. With annual sales of `2,500 crore apples account for about 6% of the state GDP, providing gainful employment to over one-half of the rural population of six districts.
Domestic growers are facing stiff competition from Chinese apples. According to India's stated position import tariffs on apples cannot be raised beyond 50% under the "bound rate of duty" commitment to the World Trade Organization. "To do so apples have to be included in the 'special products' category. The commerce ministry may now initiate the process to put apples under this category with the agriculture ministry," Nadda said.
"Negotiation with the WTO for a further increase in import tariffs on apples may also be put on the ministry's agenda to ensure a level playing field for domestic growers in general and those Himachal Pradesh in particular. As far as garlic is concerned, Himachal is one of the major producers in the country and farmers there are confronted with cheaper garlic imports," he added.