SRINAGAR, NOV 14: In a worrisome development, farmers in Kashmir have hit the panic button as a surge of inexpensive Iranian apples inundates Indian markets.
This influx has triggered concerns among farmers who, united in 2021, had vowed to combat the influx of more affordable Iranian apple varieties.
Previously, the central government had imposed restrictions on apple imports, with the Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) and Iranian apple prices hovering around ₹50 per kg. However, farmers now report a sharp decline in Kashmiri apple rates by nearly 40% over the past three weeks.
Bashir Ahmad Basheer, Chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Union, expressed deep concern over the heavy flow of Iranian apples masquerading as Afghan produce through the Wagah Border.
“This influx has disrupted the hopes of Valley-based fruit growers who anticipated compensation for their losses during sacred festivals. The arrival of Iranian apples, falsely labeled as Afghan, has led to a drop of over Rs. 600/- per box for Grade “A” Kashmiri apples in various markets.”
“Just two weeks ago, Kashmiri apple boxes commanded prices ranging from Rs. 1000/- to Rs. 1300/-, but now they are being sold at a mere Rs. 800/- per box, causing distress among fruit growers who were expecting better returns. The situation is particularly alarming considering that India is one of the world’s largest apple producers, with around 80% of the rural population in Jammu and Kashmir (UT) directly or indirectly dependent on this sector.” The horticulture industry, deemed the lifeline for the economy of Jammu and Kashmir (UT), is now facing a precarious situation due to the influx of Iranian apples.
“The dumping of Iranian apples in the Indian market, falsely labeled as Afghan produce, has not only wreaked havoc on the small and marginal fruit growers of Kashmir but has also pushed those in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand into mental agony.” This crisis highlights the urgent need for measures to safeguard the interests of Indian fruit growers and protect the horticulture industry, a vital component of the economies in these regions.