Fruit growers urge Govt to rein in rising freight, packaging costs

Fruit growers inside Srinagar's Fruit Mandi. [Representational Image]
Fruit growers inside Srinagar's Fruit Mandi. [Representational Image] File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Baramulla: Fruit growers in North Kashmir have urged the government to rein in rising costs of apple box packaging and shipping charges that are eating away at their profit margins.

Although the Minimum Import Price (MIP) ceiling on apple imports has been welcomed by fruit growers in North Kashmir, they still face considerable difficulties with regard to freight and transportation costs.

The central government recently enacted a ban on apple imports with a CIF (cost, insurance and freight) import price of less than or equal to Rs 50 per kilogramme in an effort to protect the interests of fruit farmers, who have long advocated for an end to tax-free apple imports.

The decision was a huge relief, according to Fayaz Ahmad Malik, president of the Fruit Growers Association of Sopore. He stressed that fruit farmers are also dealing with other problems, chief among them the rising costs of packing and shipping.

While pointing out the vast disparity in prices, Malik claimed that the cost of importing apple boxes into India from other nations did not surpass Rs 20 per box.

However, at the busiest time of year, the cost of shipping an Apple box to Delhi might reach Rs 140. More recently, packing charges per box have topped Rs 90, which has greatly distressed fruit growers.

"We have consistently appealed to the state administration to provide subsidies on packaging and transportation," said Malik. He added that such subsidies would bring immense relief to fruit growers, who have been grappling with changing weather patterns in recent years.

Muhammad Sadiq, a fruit grower from Rafiabad, expressed his joy and relief regarding the implementation of the Minimum Import Price (MIP) for apples. He described it as a vital measure that will ease the hardships faced by growers.

He said that in the absence of a MIP ceiling on imported apples, fruit growers had been confronted with severe challenges.

“imports of apples, particularly from Iran, posed a significant threat to the local fruit industry. However, the intervention of the state government is expected to positively impact the economic prospects of fruit growers,” said Muhammad Sidiq.

The fruit growers are now hopeful that their concerns regarding the mounting freightage and packaging charges will be addressed. “Such support would bolster their efforts to sustain their businesses and contribute to the growth of the fruit industry,” said Shahid Iqbal, another fruit grower from Sopore.

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