by Raashid Andrabi
SRINAGAR: Kashmir’s apple growers can finally take a deep breath of relief as the Indian government has implemented a Minimum Import Price (MIP) for apples, which puts an end to the influx of cheap imports from Iran and Afghanistan.
This policy mandates that any apple costing less than Rs 50 per kilogram cannot be imported, providing a much-needed boost to the local apple industry. With over 35 lakh people, both directly and indirectly, depending on the apple industry for their livelihood, the move is expected to have a significant impact on the Kashmiri economy, which currently accounts for around 8% of the country’s GDP.
The announcement of this decision was received with open arms by the Kashmiri apple growers, who have been struggling for years with declining prices due to the cheap import of apples from neighbouring countries. The drop in apple pricing caused losses for local producers, leading to many switching their apple orchards for non-agricultural purposes. The new policy is expected to ensure that the local apple industry obtains a higher market share.
According to Majid Aslam Wafai, President of JKPICCA, “We have been lobbying for this for a long time, and we hope that this measure will protect farmers whose input costs for growing apples have gone up manifold in recent years.” He further added, “We will have a stable price now during the harvest season, beforehand the Iranian apples were sold at lesser prices here which impacted us.”
The MIP is an import price ceiling that safeguards the interests of the country’s apple growers. The import policy remains “Free” for those apples costing above Rs 50 per kilogram. However, an exception has been made for India’s neighbour Bhutan, which has been kept out of the new restrictions.
This decision by the Indian government is expected to have a significant impact on the Kashmiri economy. In Jammu and Kashmir, 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. Apples are grown on 1.68 lakh hectares of land, accounting for a significant portion of the region’s horticultural industry. Pears are cultivated on 14,161 hectares of land in the Valley.
The move is expected to safeguard the interests of local apple growers and ensure that the industry obtains a higher market share. The local farmers, who have been eagerly awaiting such a decision, are now optimistic about the future of the apple industry. One such farmer, Shabir Ahmad, said, “This decision has come as a huge relief for us. We were struggling to compete with the cheap imports from Iran and Afghanistan. Now, we can expect a fair price for our produce.”
The decision to impose an MIP for apples is a welcome move, particularly for the small-scale apple growers in the region. Many of these farmers have been struggling to make ends meet due to the lack of a proper support system. The new policy is expected to provide a much-needed boost to the local apple industry, which has been facing tough competition from cheap imports from neighbouring countries.
The Kashmiri apple industry has been a significant contributor to the region’s economy for decades. The implementation of this new policy is expected to help this industry regain its position as one of the leading horticultural industries in the country. It is also expected to provide a much-needed source of income for the local farmers who depend on the industry for their livelihood.
Overall, the decision to implement an MIP for apples is a positive step towards supporting the local apple industry in Kashmir. With this new policy in place, local farmers can finally breathe a sigh of relief and hope for a better future.