Sopore, Sep 13: The apple growers in Kashmir have expressed strong resentment against the Central government’s decision to relax 20 percent customs duty on the US apples, and have demanded the rollback of the decision.
“This will impact us badly,” President Fruit Mandi Sopore, Fayaz Ahmed Malik popularly known as Kaka Ji, said.
He said the decision to relax 20 percent customs duties on the apples imported from the US is going to severely impact the growers from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which are rich in the production of this fruit.
The decision shall be revoked at the earliest to save this sector, Malik said.
The Government of India took this decision in the recently-concluded G20 Summit in New Delhi, evoking a strong response from those associated with the apple industry as well as politicians who demand its rollback.
Kaka Ji said, “We are already battling the challenges for the last several years and have always sought 100 percent import duty on apples to ensure better returns for locals. However, the situation is taking a U-turn for us.”
Malik, who also heads the fruit growers’ association, said such a decision is being taken “just to please the countries”. “The government is putting its own people into trouble. For the last several years, we are continuously facing the challenges and the sector is badly hit. Such decisions are taking us for a ride,” he said.
Only 30 percent of apple crops are left as the rest have been damaged by unpleasant situations like hailstorms and other factors, Fayaz claimed. He sought the intervention of the Jammu & Kashmir Lieutenant Governor in this regard.
Kakaji further said that prolonged heatwaves and dry weather are also taking a hit on apple production. Therefore, he said, the need of the hour is to launch a Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) to compensate for the losses incurred by fruit growers.
“We appeal to PM Modi and Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to intervene and save this industry as the markets currently are not favourable for us,” he said.
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