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Farm unions urge HP govt to remove GST on packaging material, impose 100% import duty on apples

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Farm unions urge HP govt to remove GST on packaging material, impose 100% import duty on apples

Shimla, Jan 25 (KNN) In a Memorandum to the Himachal Pradesh government, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organisation of farm unions has urged the state government to exclude the fruit from the free trade agreement and impose 100 per cent import duty on foreign apples.

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SKM in a 20-point demand charter to the government, has asked them to do away with GST on packaging material, and clear the pending dues worth Rs 90 crore of the farmers besides restoration of subsidy on pesticides, fungicides and other input material.

It has also appealed for an implementation of the market intervention scheme in Himachal on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir, reported the Hindustan times.

Currently, the Himachal Pradesh’s apple economy is estimated to be worth Rs 6,000 crore.

“Last few years have been very tough for the horticulture sector, especially the post-Covid era when the cost of production rose exponentially, whereas the prices for our produce remained the same and even fell in some instances,” said Harish Chauhan, convener of the SKM.

Lokinder Singh Bisht, who heads the Progressive Growers’ Association, said the issue of low-priced import of apples from Iran needs to be taken up with the central government. “Phytosanitary inspections should be done stringently and custom duty on apple should be increased by lobbying with the central government to include it in the special category,” he added.

“The current cost of production should be worked out and the price of culled fruit be fixed keeping in mind the input cost. We propose that the price of apple procured under the market intervention scheme should be a minimum of Rs 20,” Bisht pointed out.

Bisht further said that Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) should also look into setting up of a plant to manufacture ethanol from apples and other fruits to create an opportunity to convert the procured produce into industrial grade ethanol.

“HPMC should also provide machinery, fertilisers and pesticides at below-the-market rates by procuring the same directly from the manufacturer. Pickups and small transport vehicles should be allowed to be registered as private vehicles,” he added.

SKM has urged the chief minister to convene a meeting to resolve all issues and fulfil the “genuine demands” of the farmers and fruit growers.  (KNN Bureau)

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