Imports hurting horticulture farmers in India

According to Sarampalli Malla Reddy, Vice-President of All India Kisan Sabha, “Several farmers who grow citrus fruits, have destroyed their plants in Nalgonda, Guntur, West Godavari and East Godavari as they were unable to secure even input costs. But, as much as 30 per cent of the citrus fruit on the market was imported.”

According to him, increased foreign imports are hurting the horticulture industry in the country. The imports began making their way into the Indian market in 2005 and the trend has kept growing rapidly. 

Narsimha Reddy, former MLA, Nalgonda said, “30 per cent of the produce goes to waste and if the Horticulture Department could curb this by way of providing cold storage and warehouse facilities, the plight of farmers could be addressed.”

Explaining the harmful effect of imports, Malla Reddy said, “A fall in prices and changes in cropping patterns had led to a fall in incomes for farmers. Farmers no longer evince interest and many stop farming altogether.” 

The absence of full-fledged cold storage facilities has been the bane of horticulture farmers for years. There are 1,400 cold storages and warehouses in the two Telugu States, but not a single one is allocated for the storage of fruits. “If the farmer can get a minimum support price and the government ensures he does, the import of foreign fruits can be tackled,” said Malla Reddy.

Commission agents have been ruling the roost and their stranglehold should be broken.” he added. In the meanwhile, imports of foreign fruits such as Rose Apples from New Zealand, kiwis, ruby coloured grapes from the USA and Sweet Tamarind from Thailand are growing by almost 40 to 60 per cent a year.

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