The apple growing farmers in Himachal Pradesh, under the leadership of Kisan Sabha have decided to fight the coming proposal of Union government that is bent upon lifting the ban on import duty of apple after 2014.
State President of Kisan Sabha, Kuldeep Tanwar and President of Apple Growers Association, Rakesh Singha said in a statement that the proposed lifting of ban on apple import would destroy the agrarian economy of the hill state where majority of farmers are dependent on growing apple,s which is the only cash crop here.
Right now there is 50 percent import duty on all types of apple coming to India, they said. Number of organisations and farmer associations from Kinnaur, Mandi, Lahaul and Spiti, Shimla and Kullu, the major apple producing districts, would participate in the one day convention in Shimla on Saturday, informed by the Kissan Sabha.
The farm leaders said that apple growers of the hill state are also suffering due to “South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA)”. Because of this agreement apple from Iran and China are being imported through Sri Lanka and Nepal and that costs cheaper than the local fruit. There will be enormous loss to local agriculturists after the blanket lifting of ban on the import duty.
The Kisan Sabha mentioned that there are 93 countries producing apples in the world and India which stands at number three contributes just 4.11 percent of the total production in the World.
While the neighboring China produces 47.32 percent of the total world production because of better infrastructure and incentives. If the ban on import duty is lifted, apples from countries like China and America would create problems to India since the cost of production there is much less due to wide subsidies and incentives given by their governments. In America subsidy on apple is 29 percent, in European countries 37 percent while in India it is reduced to 3 percent from earlier about 7 percent, said the Kisan Sabha.
The apple growing farmers are being pushed to the wall with the rise in prices of fertilizers, pesticides, transportation and marketing inputs, said the farmer participants coming for the convention.