Srinagar, May 8: In a big relief for apple growers of Kashmir, the central government has prohibited the import of apples where the CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) import price is less than or equal to Rs 50 per kilogram.
The central government has changed its import policy for apples and created a Minimum Import Price (MIP), which is an import price ceiling, to safeguard the interests of the country's apple growers. This is a significant step that is sure to cheer up Kashmir's apple farmers.
This decision came after Iranian apple imports during the last two years have hit the rates of Kashmiri apples.
Fruit growers were claiming that the decreasing prices of apples are forcing many to switch their apple orchards for non-agricultural purposes.
However, an exception has been granted under this amendment in Apple's import policy. As per the Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India’s neighbour Bhutan is kept out of the new restrictions.
The import policy remains "Free" for those apples costing above Rs 50 per kilogram.
The DGFT did not specify any reason in its notification as to why the amendment in Apple's import policy was needed.
The decision has, however, put a smile on the faces of apple producers who were negatively impacted by the cheap import of apples that was dumped into Indian markets and eating away at their market share.
Apple growers would benefit from the decision, according to Bashir Ahmad Basheer, chairman of the All Kashmir Fruit Growers Dealers Union.
The drop in apple pricing caused losses for local producers, he said, adding that this ceiling would now ensure that our product will obtain a higher market share. "From previous many years we are criticising how cheap apples were imported via Afghanistan led to a decline in apple prices."
Over 35 lakh people, or around 7 lakh agricultural households, work in the horticultural industry directly or indirectly. In Jammu and Kashmir, apples account for around 8% of the country's GDP. More than Over 3.37 lakh hectares of land is being used for the production of fresh and dry fruits, and more area is added each year. In the Valley, pears are cultivated on 14,161 hectares of land, whereas apples are grown on 1.68 lakh hectares of land all by themselves.