Raise in duty on imported apples: HP’s fruit growers pin hopes on Modi’s Shimla visit
Fruit growers from the hill state, who have for long been demanding a raise in import duties on apples amid dipping market share, are hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make an announcement to this effect during his visit to Shimla on May 31.
“Apple growers have been constantly demanding that central and state governments raise duty on imported apples. It is imported to India from 44 countries across the world, but the ones eating into our profits the most are from Chile and Iran. Not just fruit growers from Himachal, but also those from Jammu & Kashmir, Uttrakhand and other apple-growing states are facing huge losses,” said Harish Chauhan, president of the Fruit, Vegetables and Flower Growers’ Association, Himachal Pradesh.
“The association has also submitted a memorandum to chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and Modi had made lofty promises to fruit growers ahead of assembly elections. But, nothing was done at the ground level,” said Chauhan.
A total of 2.84 crore apple boxes was produced this year against last year’s 3.43 crore and around one lakh metric tonnes had been kept in cold stores as well as controlled atmospheric stores in Chandigarh, Kundli, Sonepat , Ahmadabad, Chennai, Hyderabad and Vijayawada.
But, the growers faced a major hit, as they were forced to sell the stored apples at cheap prices. “Cheap imports from Iran have killed the market for conventional cold-stored apples from Himachal and Kashmir and controlled atmosphere stored apples, making the trade inviable and non-remunerative,” said Lokinder Singh Bisht, president of the PGA Progressive Growers’ Association.
For the last two years, home-grown apples have been facing stiff competition from duty-free fruits being imported from Iran under India‘s Free Trade Agreement. Large consignments of apples are also shipped to ports in Gujarat and Maharashtra, while some are routed to markets in north India through the Attari-Wagah border.
Despite numerous representations to the Centre by orchardists in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, duty-free import of fruits has not been rolled back. The CM had also recently asked the Union government to raise the duty on apple import.
The ₹60,000 crore apple market is the source of sustenance for around 1.75 lakh families in Himachal. The fruit is grown in seven of HP’s 12 districts with Shimla, Kullu and Kinnaur being the largest producers.
PM Modi will be in Shimla on May 31 to celebrate the eight anniversary of the National Democratic Alliance Government. He will hold a roadshow; virtually interact with beneficiaries of centrally sponsored schemes and later address a rally from the ridge ground on May 31.
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