August 13, 2023

Kerala CM Assures to Provide Market Support For Apple Farmers through Co-operatives

ON August 5th, a delegation from the Apple Farmers’ Federation of India (AFFI) met with Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala, in New Delhi to explore opportunities for establishing a robust marketing network within the domestic market of Kerala through co-operatives. The objective of this initiative is to ensure fair and profitable prices for apple farmers from the states of Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. The AFFI delegation comprised Muhammed Yousuf Tarigami, Rakesh Singha, former MLA, and Sohan Singh Thakur, convenor of the 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 in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand are facing a severe crisis as production costs have risen significantly while returns to the farmers have been declining. Notably, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to the United States of America, the import duty on American apples was reduced from 70 per cent to 50 per cent, potentially leading to a substantial influx of American apples into the Indian market.

AFFI has taken the lead in uniting apple farmers to address various challenges related to apple cultivation, including improving productivity and quality through the adoption of scientific cultivation techniques and strategic marketing approaches – all the way from the farm to the consumer. To counter the dominance of traders, commission agents, brokers, and corporate entities that tend to exploit the existing marketing methods, AFFI envisions creating an alternative marketing system based on cooperatives. This system aims to liberate apple farmers from distress sales, which have become the norm. Often, the farmers do not receive payment for their sold produce immediately or sometimes not at all.

The AFFI delegation conveyed these challenging circumstances to the chief minister and discussed about how the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala could assist apple farmers through cooperative initiatives to streamline the journey of apples from farm to consumer. Utilising the railway network, apple transportation from Chandigarh to Kochi can be achieved within 48 hours, thus preserving the fruit's shelf life. To make this mechanism successful, the farmers would need to establish cooperatives. The chief minister assured the delegation of his government's full support to assist apple farmers. AFFI plans to engage with the cooperative department minister in Kerala and present a comprehensive project report on this matter.