A delegation of the Apple Farmers’ Federation of India (AFFI) visited Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, at New Delhi on 5th August to discuss possibilities of developing marketing network in the domestic market of Kerala through the co-operatives in order to ensure remunerative price to the Apple farmers of the state of Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The delegation included Muhammed Yusuf Tarigami, Rakesh Sinha, former MLA and Sohan Singh Thakur Convenor of Apple Farmer’s Federation of India (AFFI). The AFFI delegation was accompanied by Ashok Dhawale, President, Vijoo Krishnan, General Secretary and P Krishnaprasad, Finance Secretary of AIKS.
Apple farmers of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are in a deep crisis as the cost of production has increased many folds and the returns to the farmers are declining. Recently, during the visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to United States of America, the import duty of the American apple has been slashed from 70% to 50% which will result in American apple reaching the Indian markets in large quantities.
AFFI is organising the Apple farmers on all issues related to apple farming including how to increase the productivity and it’s quality by adopting scientific cultivating technology and marketing strategy from farm direct to the consumer. AFFI envisages developing alternative marketing system based on cooperatives so that the Apple farmer is able to come out of the stress sale they are compelled to make through the existing marketing methods dominated by the traders, commission agents, brokers and corporate companies tend to make windfall profits. The farmers even do not get the money of the sold produce as the practice is to provide the money not at the time of the sale but at a subsequent period or at times the farmers do not get this money at all.
The delegation conveyed these adverse circumstances to the Chief Minister and sought how the LDF government in Kerala can help the Apple farmers through the Co-operatives to take the Apple from the farm to the consumer. The Apple farmers through the railway network can transport apple in 48 hours from Chandigarh to Kochin which will help in keeping the shelf life of the fruit in good condition. If this mechanism can work it will help the Apple farmers for which they also have to form Co-operatives. The Chief Minister has assured all assistance possible from the state government to Apple farmers. AFFI will interact with the Minister of Cooperative Department in Kerala and present detailed project report in this regard.