Apple from Iran: growers face losses despite bumper crop
January 10, 2013
Though the Iranian border is almost closed for Pakistani fruits like Kinnow under the existing over 80 percent import duty and other trade barriers, over 28080 metric tones apple have been imported to Pakistan from Iran badly affecting the local market.
At least 12 trucks carrying over 26 metric tones of apples cross Pakistani border daily and the import of the fruit is continue for the last over 90 days despite the fact that Pakistan has had bumper crop this year. The Iranian apple comparatively costing little has created stiff competition even in the local market as there is no safeguarding measures in the country as compared to neighbouring country which has imposed huge duty to save its local market.
This is very unfortunate that despite an estimated production of around one million tones of apple this year, the fruit was highly uncompetitive in the market which has been flooded with imported or smuggled apples, said Waheed Ahmed, Chairman Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Importers and Merchant Association.
According to him, the growers may lose interest in the fruit if import/smuggling of fruits continues from the bordering country without any check or imposition of reasonable duty. The growers were happy this year that bumper crop may fetch good revenue to them but the huge quantity of imported fruits have forced them to sell out apples at lower prices. In 2011, the production was almost 0.35 million metric tones only. The plant protection and quarantine departments are doing nothing to avoid this type of situation where a grower is unable even to get the cost of production.
Besides, the energy crisis, costlier fertiliser and transportations were also the key factors which were making the country’s fruits/vegetable highly uncompetitive in international as well as domestic markets, he added. “If the current state of affairs continues, the country’s agricultural products may face more devastating situation after the planned normalisation of trade with India through granting the neighbouring country Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, he claimed.
As apple, the sweet gold of Pakistan is mostly grown in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the farmers in the area would be more affected by the present situation. The unchecked import and smuggling mainly from Iran and Afghanistan may also cause serious damages to the fruits crop as the country’s banana crop was damaged by the imports of infected banana from Australia.
Pakistan produces average 600,000 metric tones of apples per annum where the share of Balochistan is about 60 percent and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa produces 25 percent of the total produce. The remaining 15 percent is being produced in Punjab and Sindh. Because of its attractive income, apple plantation was taken up by the growers in Swat, Dir, Mansehra, Parachinar, Chitral, Hunza, Skardu, North and South Waziristan Agencies. Various varieties of apples which are being grown in the country are; Top Red, Red Spur, Kala Kulu, Super Gold, Red Chief, Apple Elite, Stark Crimson, Oregon Spur, Red Rom Beauty, Royal Gala, Spartan and Double Red, Samarqand etc.