Apple growers to hold massive protest in Himachal



Shimla (Jun 4): Himachal Pradesh Apple Growers Association (HPAGA) has decided to hold massive protest demonstrations throughout the state on 6th June 2011 against the government’s “unconcern towards the woes of apple growers”.
These demonstrations would be held at over 20 centers of the state. Sit-in dharnas outside the offices of BDOs, tehsildars, etc. will be followed by handing over a memorandum to the respective officers addressed to the chief minister of the state. These demonstrations would be led by Rakesh Singha convenor of HPAGA, Dr Onkar Shad, co convenor, Dr Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, Sanjay Chauhan, Sukhdev Chauhan, Pratap Thakur, Hottam Singh and several other members of the state executive. The protests will take place in Malana, Anni, Nirmand, Mandi, Sainj, Banjar, Jullu, Rampur, Narkanda, theog, Rohru, Jubbal, Kotkhai, Chirgaon, Mashobra, Nankhari, BhawaNagar, Jhanjheli, Karsog, Balichowki and at several other places.
The HPAGA has stated that the ruinous policies of the successive governments have severely affected the sustainability of this chief crop of the state. “The neo-liberal policies have led to a state where the government has almost withdrawn from investing in agriculture and horticulture sector. With several Free Trade Agreements being signed, the customs duty on foreign apples has been reduced from 45 to 35 percent and efforts are to remove it completely. The subsidies have been reduced substantially, whereas in EU and other countries the subsidies are high with a correspondingly high degree of productivity. This effects the relative market of the apple from Himachal and abroad. Further, the state led support system has also collapsed.”
HPAGA has laid the following demands:
To provide money for apples bought last year from the growers under the Market Intervention Scheme. Further the cartons being sold in lieu of money for the apples be given at market price and not costlier than that.
To Immediately compensate growers for loss due to natural calamities like hail, etc. Provide hail nets to the growers at 90 percent subsidy, initiate efforts to end up commission from the growers in Delhi Subzi Mandi, repair the roads in apple growing areas, declare remunerative price for apples.
To open compressed atmosphere stores and processing units in all the blocks, provide subsidy on packaging material, fertilizers and insecticides and pesticides, add protection from wild animals, monkeys and birds in MNREGA and bring all the blocks under crop insurance and add the loss due to hail as one of the features of insurance.

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