Facing huge losses, fruit growers hold protests against ‘illegal’ import of Iranian apples

The protesting traders also appealed to the central government and LG lead administration of J&K UT to ban the import of Iranian apples so that the local apple trade won't suffer more.
Facing huge losses, fruit growers hold protests against ‘illegal’ import of Iranian apples
"By allowing import of Iranian apple through Afghanistan, thereby evading import duty, the GoI is endangering its own economically vibrant fruit industry," said Obaid Bhat.Special arrangement

Sopore: As the dumping of Iranian apples into Indian markets have eaten the market share of Kashmiri fruit leading to losses for farmers, Kashmir-based fruit growers and traders today staged protests in the Sopore area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district seeking an immediate ban on Iranian apples in India.

The protesting traders while raising slogans against the authorities said that duty-free Iranian apple has devastated the indigenous Kashmiri apple trade.

While holding ply cards, which reads "Ban on Iranian apple", "Save fruit industry of Kashmir", the protesters stated that the import of Iranian apples to India has completely downgraded the fruit industry of Kashmir.

“It has badly affected our local fruit industry as our apples are fetching lesser price in comparison to last year due to influx of Iranian apples into Indian markets illegally without import duty. This has left all the fruit traders of Kashmir worried,” said president Fruit Growers and Dealers Association Fruit Mandi Sopore, Fayaz Ahmad Malik.

"The tax-free Iranian apple has crippled the apple trade. The worst affected are the people of Kashmir, as apple trade constitutes major economy of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said adding that despite taking up the issue with the concerned authorities there has been no action so far in this regard.

Obaid Bhat, a fruit merchant from Ferozpora Sopore, while protesting against the 'onslaught' on Apple industry said that let Government Of India allow direct import of fruit from Iran instead of allowing its trade through Afghanistan under a bilateral free trade agreement.

"By allowing import of Iranian apple through Afghanistan, thereby evading import duty, the GoI is endangering its own economically vibrant fruit industry," said Obaid Bhat.

Muhammad Ashraf, another protesting fruit grower, while lashing at the authorities said that apple growers of Kashmir pay a huge tax to Bangladesh Government while exporting apples to Bangladesh. However, it is India only where through 'illegal' practice Iranian apple is being imported that too through the third country.

As per official figures, the annual production of apples in Kashmir Valley ranges from 1.5 million to 1.8 million metric tonnes and the total cold storage capacity in the Valley is 120,000 to 130,000 MTs.

"A tax-free apple from Iran is an immense threat to apple from Kashmir. Let the Indian Government intervene in the matter, otherwise, the Jammu and Kashmir will face the huge economic threat," says Mubashir Ahmad, a fruit merchant from Achabal Sopore.

The protesting traders also appealed to the central government and LG lead administration of J&K UT to ban the import of Iranian apples so that the local apple trade won't suffer more.

Greater Kashmir
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