Shimla: As the deadlock between the Centre and the Himachal Pradesh government continues over the issue of increasing the import duty on apple, the fate of state’s apple industry worth Rs 3,000 crore hangs in balance.

Owing to the chasm between the Union government and the state government, the issue of hike in import duty of apples has been lying in abeyance for past two years.

The strong influx of imported apples in the Indian fruit market at cheap rates has compounded to the miseries of fruit growers of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jammu and Kashmir. Despite several rounds of parleys, the state and the central government could not arrive on a consensus.

From September 19, 2009 to August 8, 2011, several rounds of discussions on protecting the fruit growers from the current onslaught of imported apples have taken place.

Considering the last six year statistics of the Indian apple market, it came into light that the demand of imported apples has drastically increased in big fruit Mandis of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Madras and Ahmedabad.

Imported apples from China and Chili have raised the alarm bells ringing for the Indian fruit growers. Even the apples imported from New Zealand, South Africa and America have dominated the Indian market.

More so, the import of apples has increased manifolds in last five years. In 2006, 35, 832 metric ton of apple was imported which increased to 90, 714 in 2009. It reached to a scale of 1,15,491 metric ton in 2010 and reached the highest of 200,000 in 2011.

The spike in import has lead to fluctuation of apple prices in the Indian market. In big mandis the cost of imported apples has reached to Rs 45-50 per kilogram.  The same apples are being sold in retail market at a price of Rs 60-70 per kilo.

Moreover, the apples from Himachal Pradesh are being sold at a sky rocketing price of Rs 100-120 kilo in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Madras.

Owing to the price differences, the attraction for imported apples has increased among the Indian buyers. Imported apples in both small and big states have declined the sale of Himachal grown apples.

(JPN/Bureau)