A joint forum of apple dealers from Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand chapters has written a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture to stop “the illegal sale of Iranian apples which is posing quarantine pest threat” to local apple producing regions of the country.
“We demand an immediate ban should be imposed on the import of apples from Iran and the duty for other imported apples be raised to 100% with a minimum billing of $1/kg for calculation of duty to avoid dumping of produce in our country,” reads the joint letter submitted to Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar.
The joint letter has been forwarded by the Hill States Horticulture Forum, with its Kashmir Chapter headed by Majid Aslam Wafai, the Himachal Chapter by Harish Chauhan and the Uttarakhand Chapter by Praveen Kumar.
The letter said if the action was not initiated, it would affect the income of farmers, the fresh fruit sector and the future export potential of these fruits from our country. “Take this communication as an SOS message from the farmers,” the letter said.
According to apple dealers of these three regions, fresh fruit traders have started to import Iran’s fresh apples unlike last year and have started to dump them in the Indian market “at unexpected prices by adopting a different strategy by heavily under-invoicing the bills, thereby reducing the impact of import duty”.
This, according to dealers, in spite of Iranian apples posing “a greater threat to our country’s apples after quarantine pest Aspidiotus Nerii and non-quarantine pest Aonidiella Aurantii were detected from kiwi consignments from Iran in December last year.”According to the letter, the experts at the Sher-i-Kashmir Agriculture University and Science Technology (SKUAST), Srinagar, have made it clear that if such pests enter the territory of any apple producing State it would be a catastrophe for the local farmers.