South African apple imports cause price decline for Kashmiri apples

Apple boxes in Kashmir
Representational Image

SRINAGAR — With South African apples now entering Indian markets, the prices of Kashmiri apples have seen a further decline, resulting in significant losses for buyers and growers.

Efforts by the South African government to expand its market share in India have received a boost with a new agreement between India and South Africa, allowing in-transit sterilisation of South African apples and pears. This has enabled South African fruit to reach retail markets across the country more quickly, maintaining their freshness.

Growers and buyers, speaking with the news agency KNO, expressed their dismay over the current situation. They said there has been a drastic decrease in apple prices compared to rates during the main apple season in October-November 2023.

“The increasing presence of South African apples in retail supermarkets and e-commerce platforms across the country has further reduced demand for Kashmiri apples, thereby lowering prices and causing losses for growers and buyers,” they said.

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Tariq Ahmad, a fruit grower from Shopian, said that they were previously receiving around Rs 800-1000 per apple box in Indian markets during spring. However, rates have further plummeted, leading to losses for growers, he said.

He highlighted the good demand during October-November last year but lamented the reduced demand this time, which he said was exacerbated by the influx of produce from different countries into Indian markets.

Many growers said they were already experiencing losses this spring, which have been worsened by increased imports from various countries, including Africa. They said that buyers who had purchased apples at higher rates last autumn are now receiving less than half of the price, while also incurring additional expenses of around Rs 300 per box for cold storage.

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Despite bringing the issue of apple imports to the attention of authorities, growers said no tangible action has been taken to address their concerns.

Bashir Ahmad Basheer, chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, expressed concern over the losses faced by buyers due to reduced demand compared to the previous year.

“Rates have further declined in recent weeks due to the surge in South African apple imports, which has led to over 40 per cent losses for growers,” he said.

Bashir sought government support to prioritise domestic produce and urged immediate steps to alleviate growers’ losses.

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