Himachal Govt to stop buying Italian apple plants. Worry for Kashmir?
ZT News Network
Srinagar, Aug 10: In a significant decision, the government of Himachal Pradesh (HP) has decided to stop apple rootstock import from Italy following the poor survival rate of the plant material.
Under a Rs 1,134 crore project, Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development Project (HPHDP) has been importing apple root stock from Italy for some years now.
This latest move from Himachal Pradesh is likely to revive the debate in Kashmir on the imported apple root stock, which, many people say, could not only destroy indigenous plant varieties, but also impoverish farmers in the long term.
It is pertinent to mention that there are similar experiences in some parts of Kashmir where imported high-density apple types have been introduced.
Himachal’s Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh was quoted by The Tribune as saying that the issue of poor survival of the imported apple plants had been brought to his notice.
“I have inspected the imported plants, almost half of which have dried up at a nursery at Gaura near Yashwantnagar, Rajgarh, in Sirmour distrist,” he said.
The purchase of plants from Italian nurseries will be stopped until fruit growers are identified and also plants supplied to them during winter, The Tribune reported.
A total of 7.50 lakh apple plants have been supplied by Vita Fruit, an Italian company, in the last three years.
Vita Fruit has informed the project Director of the HPHDP that it will not take the legal responsibility in case of poor survival of the plants as there was delay in placing the supply order to it by the government, reports said.
The imported plant material is being supplied to the apple growers in Himachal Pradesh at a subsidised rate of Rs 200 though the cost of each plans is about Rs 400. The plants were to be supplied by the company till 2022.