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Apple ‘threat’

November 18, 2023
Iranian Apple Fruit

A total of 7,267 metric tonnes of apples have been imported from Iran and Afghanistan over the past month or so. The impact of this influx has sparked concerns among the valley fruit growers and dealers, who claim a decline in the demand for Kashmiri apples by over 40 per cent. Figures reveal that from October 10 to November 15, a total of 29 metric tons of apples were exported from Iran to Azadpur Mandi, New Delhi. In parallel, Kashmir shipped 89,000 metric tons of apples, while Afghanistan contributed 7,238 metric tons to the Azadpur fruit mandi during the same period. However, as per officials, the valley’s fruit industry has not experienced any detrimental impact due to the influx of Iranian and Afghani apples. It is pertinent to mention that India has a free trade policy with Afghanistan. Iran, despite being subjected to export duty, managed to export only 29 metric tons of apples in the same timeframe. The quantity of apples shipped from Kashmir valley during this period significantly surpassed the combined imports from Afghanistan and Iran. In fact, the positive market demand for Kashmiri apples this year has continued, indicating that growers received better rates in various markets across India. However, the sentiment among apple growers and dealers paints a different picture. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union expressed apprehensions of substantial losses due to the influx of Iranian apples. The letter points out a reduction in the rates of Grade ‘A’ Kashmir apples by Rs 600 per box. Two weeks ago, a box of Kashmiri apples would sell for Rs. 1000-1300 in various fruit markets across India; now, it fetches only Rs. 800 per box as per the growers. The union in its claim has further highlighted the ‘distressing impact’ of the heavy flow of Iranian apples, not just on small and marginal growers in Kashmir, Himachal, and Uttarakhand but also on the state exchequer. The union made a fervent appeal to the Prime Minister to consider imposing a ban or alternatively imposing a 100 per cent excise duty on the arrival of Iranian apples in Indian markets. However, it is essential to critically examine whether banning imports solely based on the apprehension of potential losses is a viable solution. The local growers must introspect and analyse how imported apples are reaching markets at more affordable rates, opening avenues for strategic planning and a more competitive approach. While the concerns of the valley fruit growers deserve attention, the solution lies not just in restricting imports but in devising strategies to enhance the competitiveness of locally produced apples. This may involve adopting innovative agricultural practices, improving post-harvest management and exploring ways to enhance the overall quality and marketability of Kashmiri apples. Therefore, a nuanced approach is necessary to address the challenges posed by the influx of Iranian apples. Banning apples from Iran and Afghanistan or imposing very heavy import duty is not a solution.

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Avatar of M Aamir Khan

M Aamir Khan

Koshur from Bagh-e-MaGarmaL

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