Himachal Pradesh Government today requested the Union Agriculture Ministry to sanction various incentives to apple growers of the Himalayan States. The demand was made by delegation headed by Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta meets Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in New Delhi today. Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Minister Shyam Lal Sharma, Anurag Singh Thakur, Virender Kashyap and Vimla Kashyap accompanied the Minister.

Narinder Bragta demanded that hail-storms should be declared as natural calamity and the loss suffered by the fruit growers due to hail-storm should be compensated under the central scheme. He said that state has suffered loss of Rs 900 crore due to hailstorm during last three years and told that although Central Government has identified hail-storm as one of the natural calamities under the water and climate related disaster but has not treated it as a as natural calamity for determining the loss of crop so that the farmers could be able to get due and proper compensation for the losses of crops due to hail-storms and demanded that loss occurred due to hailstorm should also be fully compensated. He urged the Central Government to provide central assistance under HMNEH for installation of anti-hail gun system in fruit growing areas of the State and added that at present the State has installed the facility at three places which has shown positive results.

Horticulture Minister requested the Central Government to adopt multi-pronged strategy to protect the production and marketing of apples and demanded the enhancement of import duty on apples from China and other countries who have created an intense competition by dumping its apples at major ports, including Kolkata and Mumbai as a result of which the domestic apple production is receiving a severe beating in Indian market and is not able to withstand due to bulk imports.

Narinder Bragta demanded that all the apple produce should be brought under market intervention scheme and added that at present Central Government shares the burden of only 25% procured fruits on 50:50 basis for Himachal Pradesh while the sharing formula of 75:25 basis is implemented in case of North East States. He requested the cost sharing ratio for Himachal Pradesh on the pattern of north eastern State and added that the Central Government was providing assistance under Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States (HMNEH) and the same formula should be adopted for market intervention scheme. He requested the Union Agriculture Ministry to relax the market intervention scheme guidelines wherein the MIS is applicable only in situation when there is increase of at-least 10% in the production over the previous year’s normal production or if there is reduction in the market prices by at least 10% over the rates of previous normal season and pleaded for removing such conditions on the plea that fruit production is subject to fluctuation due to various climatic conditions and market prices depend of demand and supply. He asked for amendments in MIS policy as the State Government does not get any reimbursement from Central Government in lean season which defeats the basic purpose of the scheme.

Union Agriculture Minister assured the delegation that Central Government would provide all assistance to apple producing States to safeguard the interest of apple growers in the country.

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