Apple import from Iran hits Valley traders
Rates have come down by 40%, say traders
Srinagar: The fruit dealers and traders have been complaining of declining rates of apples across various markets in the country since the past one month.
The traders say that in autumn, the fruit growers in Kashmir fetched good amount on their produce but now they are witnessing a down slide in rates market as rates have been continuously decreasing in different Indian markets.
The traders blame the import of Iranian apples and allege that their availability has hit the trade overall bringing down the rates of apples coming from Kashmir.
Growers from different areas of Kashmir said that usually the rates of apples increase after ending November but as December 2021 started the rates have started declining.
“This is a serious concern for us as the growers whose produce is yet to reach markets are a worried lot,” Shahid Ahmad, a fruit trader said.
Subzar Ahmad, another grower from Harmain area said that he is yet to send his 400 apple boxes as he was waiting for rates to increase but instead of witnessing an increase the rates are decreasing with each passing day.
He said that rates have decreased from 300 to 400 per box in the last one month and the farmers whose most produce is still to be dispatched from Kashmir are very worried.
Another grower said that hundreds of growers have kept their produce in cold storage chains but if rates continue to go down, where will they go as they have already spent hundreds of rupees per box to keep it in shape and condition at the cold storage units.
Experts dealing with fruit business said that around 35 percent of the produce is still lying in cold storage units and even hundreds of people have constructed sheds at their orchards where their produce is still lying.
Gulzar Ahmad, a horticulture expert said that reasons for the decline in the rates include the import of the apples from Iran which are reaching Delhi on a daily basis, besides the cold wave condition in northern states of India and lockdown which has started in different parts of India due to emergence of new Covid variant Omicron.
“The rates are down by around 40 percent as compared to the rates which were in autumn,” he said.
He said that it was the duty of the government to protect the apple industry but instead of protecting it, they are allowing import from Iran and Turkey which has decreased demand of apples coming from Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal.
He added that the apples coming from other countries are carrying various diseases which will slowly reach to our orchards which will badly affect the entire industry.
He said that government must increase custom duty and cess on the apples coming from other countries so as to protect the apple industry on which livelihood of around 70 percent population of Kashmir is dependent directly or indirectly.
Notably, Kashmir has around 3.4 lakh hectares of land under horticulture cultivation, most of it dedicated to apple. According to the J&K 2017 economic survey, 34 lakh people comprising seven lakh families are primarily dependent on horticulture in Kashmir.
The apple industry has already sustained heavy losses since the past many years which includes seasonal changes, heavy snowfall and the coronavirus lockdown.