Shimla, April 4- Apple growers protest anti-horticulture policies

On Tuesday hundreds of apple growers from the three-core apple-producing states of India – Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand – held a one-day protest at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to denounce the anti-horticulture policies of the Union government. These policies have enabled large agribusiness corporate houses to make huge profits while the growers face a decline in their incomes.

The demonstration was addressed by various leaders, including Rakesh Singha, Sohan Singh Thakur, Puran Thakur, Dr Kuldeep Tanwar, Sanjay Chauhan, Zahoor Ahmad Rather, Abdul Rashid Pandit, Mohd Shah Budgam, and Gangadhar Nautiyal. The leadership of All India Kisan Sabha, Vijoo Krishnan, Dr Ashok Dhawale, Hannan Mollah, and P Krishnaprasad extended solidarity to the demonstration. Vikram Singh and Mariam Dhawale also extended their greetings.

During the demonstration, the growers presented a 9-point Charter of Demands, which included the withdrawal of eviction orders that had been served to farmers in J&K by the administration of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha. The Forest Department in Himachal Pradesh has also been sending out such draconian eviction notices in recent years. Along with this, the demand for remunerative prices for A, B and C grade apples as well as revival for Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) was kept forth.

The All Fruit Federation of India (AFFI) had submitted a detailed memorandum to the Union Minister of Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar on July 28, 2022, outlining the aforementioned demands. However, despite the submission of the memorandum, the Minister failed to take action, and as a result, the apple economy suffered a setback due to market conditions and climatic aberrations during the marketing season of 2022.

Under the banner of “Save Apple Economy, Save Apple Farmers,” the AFFI gave their 11-point demand charter to the LG.

The charter includes demands to set Genuine Freight Charges in J&K, declare Apple’s Profitable Value, impose 100% Import Duty on Apple, mandate Universal Carton for Packaging, provide Fertilisers and Cartons at Cheap Rates to Farmers, remove GST on All Products Connected to Apple, import only tested varieties of apple, and regulate Private Controlled Atmosphere (CA) Stores.

The growers highlighted how the policies have enabled large agribusiness corporate houses to make huge profits while the growers face a decline in their incomes.

The AFFI has resolved to build an organized movement against the anti-farmer and anti-horticultural policies of the Union government. The protest is a clear indication of the growing unrest among the farming community, and it remains to be seen how the Union government will respond to the demands of the growers


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