Himachal Pradesh is known for its apple orchards. The fruit crop is very important to the state’s economy, and has decidedly become an important poll issue, with the Opposition party Congress attempting to make use of apple growers’ issues and problems.
What are Apple Farmers’ Issues
Horticulturists say rising input costs due to higher prices of fertiliser, pesticides and reduced government support have made apple farming a loss-making venture.
The Kullu region, the economy of which is dependent on tourism and horticulture, has four assembly seats of Manali, Kullu Sadar, Banjar and Anni.
“Apple growers are unhappy here as rates have fallen to the level of 2012 and 2013. This issue is going to impact elections in all the four seats in this apple belt,” Naresh Chaudhary, an apple grower in Manali, told PTI.
Apple growers here are also not happy with the ruling BJP over the hike in GST on the packaging and other input materials.
“Carton rates were increased just ahead of the apple marketing season which hit our income,” Chaudhary said.
Another apple grower Durga Singh from Kullu said the ruling government had promised to open cold storage facilities in this region but did not fulfil it. “I think issues over apple rates and falling income and GST on packaging material will impact the prospects of the BJP in the four seats here,” Singh said.
What Congress Has Promised
To appease the state’s protesting apple farmers, who have been raising their voices on a variety of issues, an addition to the manifesto is the promise of a committee to consult apple farmers and decide on an MSP price for procurement.
And BJP Not Far Behind
In a letter to apple farmers, the BJP stated that it would impose a 12% GST ceiling on materials used in apple packaging, with the state government paying any additional GST.
Why Its So Important
The ruling BJP believes it has done everything possible to assist apple farmers. “We assisted Apple orchardists in every way possible.” “Our opponents are behind the agitation,” Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said.
In any case, Aapple growers have sway over 20 of Himachal Pradesh’s 68 constituencies. The community is one of the state’s most important vote banks, so every party wants to impress them.
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