Skip to main content

Himalayan States' farmers seek 'significant increase' in tariffs on imported apples

By Bharat Dogra* 

Recently, several fruit growers from Himalayan states, particularly from Kashmir, expressed their serious concern and resentment at the slashing of additional duties on imports of apples, walnuts and almonds from the USA. As is well-known, the fruit growers in the USA have the benefit of several government subsidies and it is difficult to compete against them.
Now these worries may increase in view of additional imports. Reports say, much cheaper apple from Iran is likely to reach the Indian market in October. In addition there will be apples from Turkey too. After duties the imported apple will be still available at much below the local apple price, this report quoted grower representatives in Himachal as stating. 
In addition this report has also stated that several orchardists have not received their dues government from a long time; in most cases the dues goes back to about two years when a different government was in power.
This threat from increased imports has come at a time when Himalayan apple and other fruit or dry fruit growers have already suffered from adverse weather conditions. On the one hand there has been adverse impact on fruit growth. 
On the other hand, particularly in Himachal Pradesh, the road network has been badly damaged resulting in increasing problems in transport of apples and other fruits. During the previous season, trucks from Kashmir carrying apples could not reach big city markets in time leading to losses for growers. Too much delay can lead to the rotting of perishable fruits.
Last year  on August 5 Himachal Pradesh had witnessed the biggest protest of apple growers in Himachal Pradesh in recent decades as a very large number of them joined a march in Shimla, following the getting together of nearly 27 of their organizations under the Sanyukta Kisan Manch ( SKM or Joint Farmers’ Front). This was the biggest protest of apple growers since 1990. Both of these protests were during the tenure of a BJP government.
This protest had raised a range of demands which were related to the growing problems of orchardists. One of the problems which came on top of other accumulating issues related to the rise in packaging costs and the raising of GST on packing materials. This protest criticized all-round increase in input costs and demanded more government help. 
Several demands relating to better price and marketing such as payment of minimum support price for various crops were raised. A Market Intervention Scheme for apples similar to the pattern of Kashmir was demanded, as also better implementation of agriculture produce marketing committee legislation.
Earlier, the State government had facilitated the entry of big business interests in apple purchase by giving them quick NOCs and claimed that this will help to get higher price for apples. 
However, this was soon followed by increasing problems of apple growers who complained that one of the big business houses was in fact responsible for setting a market trend towards lower price. Apple growers have been complaining that they get cheated in the arbitrary gradation of the farm produce as even better quality produce gets placed in a lower category leading to lower price.
A welcome development has been that the apple farmers of various Himalayan states have been getting united on the demand for significant increase of tariffs on imported apples so that Indian apple growers do not have to face unfair competition.
Some of the policies such as import of foreign plant material and varieties have led to losses as these could not grow properly. Indiscriminate sprays of pesticides and plant regulators have also led to ecological problems particular the disruption of natural pollination processes as bees, other friendly insects and birds who are natural pollinators have been harmed. 
Hence, both the government as well as orchardists must give much more attention to ecological aspects in order to promote sustainable livelihoods related to orchards and horticulture in particular.
Apple orchards and other fruit orchards can be sustained in the longer term only if there is adequate protection of natural forests with their diverse local species so that overall biodiversity is maintained. Orchardists should grow a mix of fruits instead of concentrating mainly on apple. 
More of such fruit should be purchased by the state government for supplying to anganwadis and mid-day meals, instead of processing this into wine, so that the trend of converting high nutrition food into harmful products can be checked.
Clearly while it is important to provide immediate relief to apple growers, wider considerations of environment, sustainability and nutrition should also get the due attention.
---
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Only. His recent books include “India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food”, “Man over Machine” and “A Day in 2071”

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9.