KOCHI: An apple a day surely keeps the doctor away. But, if the fruit is not available, the old saying would become meaningless.
The State is currently facing such a situation, after the authorities stopped import of apple through the Kochi Port. The decision came following a notification issued by the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on September 14 (No 21/2015-2020), restricting import of apple to only one port in the country - Nhava Sheva Port in Navi Mumbai.
The move was aimed at protecting the interest of domestic producers who suffer on account of cheap imports from the U.S., China, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.
Meanwhile, the Cochin Steamer Agents’ Association and Cochin Custom House Agents Association are planning to move the Kerala High Court to challenge the DGFT decision.
According to them, apple is produced mainly in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, hence the fruit needs to be imported in South India.
“As per statistics, the Kochi Port alone handled around 14,632 tonne of apple in 2014, mostly from the U.S. and Australia. Apple is imported throughout the year, while domestic production is only seasonal. The restriction on import will definitely raise the price of apple. As you know, the imported apple comes in refrigerated containers. If import of consignments is allowed only at Nhava Sheva Port, it would become a very costly affair to transport them to the other parts in the country. We have requested the DGFT to amend the order with immediate effect, thereby allowing import of apple through all the major ports of the Country,” said Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry president C S Kartha.
In the January-December 2014 period, about 14,632 tonne of apple, in 596 containers, was imported through the Kochi Port. As many as 197 containers carrying 4,599 tonne of apple came to the Kochi Port between January 1, 2015, and August 31, 2015. Overall, apple imports to India from many countries including the U.S., China, Australia, New Zealand and Italy saw a five per cent increase in 2014.