[Answered] The homegrown apple is in danger of becoming a rarity in India, what are the issues facing apple growers in India?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some issues facing apple growers in India.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

In India, Apple is primarily cultivated in Jammu & Kashmir; Himachal Pradesh; hills of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. It is also cultivated to a small extent in Arunachal Pradesh; Nagaland; Punjab and Sikkim. Himachal Pradesh is known as the “apple bowl of the country”. Recently, Farmer’s organizations and apple growers are holding protests in the State of Himachal Pradesh.

Issues facing apple growers in India:

  • The input cost of fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides has risen in the last decade. The cost of apple cartons and trays and packaging has also seen a dramatic rise. The cost borne to market the produce has also risen.
  • The increase in the Goods and Services Tax on cartons from 12% to 18%. This was done to ensure that farmers are forced to sell their produce to big buyers instead of selling it in the open market. But this leaves the apple growers at the mercy of large giants in procurement, who even decide the procurement price.
  • Due to poor road infrastructure and non-availability of cold chains, growers are forced to sell apples to commission agents at a lower price and the agents then sell the produce to big companies.
  • Unlike in Jammu and Kashmir, there is no minimum rate for procurement in Himachal.
  • Apple imports from Chile and Iran have aggravated problems of farmers. Moreover, apple production in Kashmir gets impacted by climate change.

Way forward:

  • A legally guaranteed procurement at a Minimum Support Price should be ensured to improve the conditions of farmers.
  • There is need of an independent body having representatives of apple growers, market players, commission agents and the government for conducting research in the apple economy.
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