Apple import in India has increased from 1,22,265 tonnes to 3,00,000 tonnes in the last five years, Virender Kashyap, Member of Parliament from Shimla informed.
Kashyap gave the figures while urging Union Commerce Minister, Saursh Prabhu, to increase import duty on apples at WTO bound rate of 50 percent to check import surge. India largely imports apples from USA, Australia, New Zealand, and China.
Kashyap said that the three times increase in import has adversely impacted domestic apple growers due to intensified competition. This, he said, has resulted in crashing of apple rates, leading to heavy losses to apple growers of Himachal Pradesh. The parliamentarian demanded Himachal apple be included in Special Product category to safe guard livelihood and economy of Apple growing areas of the hill state.
He informed Prabhu that apple is the mainstay of more than 1.60 lakh families in the state and is cultivated in nine out of 12 districts of the state. The apple economy impacts around 85 per cent of the total farming community in the state.
The country produces around 30 lakh tonnes of apple in about 2.9 lakh hectare area, mainly in Himalayan states.
He said that apple is only cash crop for people living in remote, inaccessible and tribal snow bound areas and the subsistence of the majority of people depends on the remunerative prices of the apple crop, which has a short season from June to September.
He urged the Union Minister to encourage central agencies to conduct a research in domestic apples and increase infrastructural facilities, cold storage, food processing facilities, better marketing facilities. He also requested arrangement of study tours for Himachali apple growers to developed countries for exchange of know-how in latest apple crop practices, so that the state could could compete in international market and export Himachali apples to developed countries.