Srinagar: Threatened by an impending catastrophe to the centuries-old apple business in Kashmir, native fruit growers have sought intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cease “unlawful entry” of Iranian apples into the Indian markets.
Iranian apples flooding the Indian markets are ‘disguised’ and routed through Afghanistan to avail zero obligation underneath the South Asian Free Commerce Space (SAFTA) pact.
SAFTA is an settlement between eight south Asian nations. Afghanistan and India are members of SAFTA and therefore, don’t impose obligation on sure imports from one another.
Whereas Iran will not be a part of SAFTA, apples from that nation attain India through Afghanistan, bypassing import duties.
The result’s that whereas a field of Kashmir apples of excellent high quality prices Rs 1,200 within the terminal markets, its Iranian counterpart prices simply Rs 700 per field.
Kashmiri fruit growers have stated of their communication to the Prime Minister: “We want to carry to your form discover that a number of fruit merchants import and dump Iranian apples arriving through Afghanistan/Dubai in our nation and this case has put the entire of our fruit business each in J&Ok (UT) and Himachal Pradesh in a really precarious scenario because it has eaten away our share available in the market.
“This unlawful and illegal dumping of Iranian apples in our nation will not be solely disastrous for small and marginal growers of J&Ok (UT)/ Himachal Pradesh but in addition ends in large losses to the State Exchequer. We request your goodself to impose a ban to limit the arrival of Iranian apple through Afghanistan/Dubai in our nation to be able to save the Horticulture Trade of UT of J&Ok and Himachal Pradesh as effectively”.
Since legally the Iranian apples don’t qualify for zero obligation underneath SAFTA, Kashmir fruit growers have demanded imposition of 100 per cent import obligation on these.
Abdul Rashid Lone, an apple orchardist in north Kashmir Kupwara district, says: “The Afghan ‘clothes’ of the Iranian apples is a criminal offense, however greater than that, it spells catastrophe for us. We now have to spend some huge cash to afford at the very least 5 fungicide/pesticide sprays every year. Add to this the price of manuring, aerating, watch and ward and so forth then our price per field of excellent high quality apple involves round Rs 200 per field. Then we have now to pay for transportation of the produce to the terminal markets. There isn’t a manner our high quality apples can compete available in the market worth with the Iranian apples exempted from obligation underneath SAFTA”.
Aside from the Valley, apples are additionally grown in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. These states additionally undergo due to the unlawful entry of Iranian apple into our markets, says Muhammad Shafi Bhat, one other apple grower from north Kashmir Ganderbal district.
Shafi says Iranian apples promote like hotcakes as a result of decrease charges and this has introduced down the demand for apples grown within the nation.
President of Kashmir Valley fruit growers cum sellers union, Basheer Ahmad Basheer says until the Iranian apple is lawfully taxed, one other two to 3 years could be sufficient for the Kashmir apples to fade from the markets.
Curiously, opposite to what many individuals imagine, tourism will not be the biggest business of Kashmir. It’s horticulture and this business performs an important position in J&Ok’s financial system, with a yearly turnover of Rs 1,200 crore. It supplies direct and oblique employment to about 23 lakh folks.
There seems to be some confusion on the official degree in J&Ok in regards to the genuineness of the zero obligation standing of Iranian apple.
Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, director-general of horticulture (Kashmir), says, “You possibly can’t cease a world treaty and commerce”. Fruit growers dismiss the competition as a result of they imagine that zero obligation accorded to Iranian apple import is neither a part of any bonafide commerce nor does it come underneath the SAFTA settlement.