Growers, traders demand roll back; say cannot withstand competitions against imported dry fruit
Having been pitted against intense competition from imported walnut and almond especially the California produce, the local farmers and traders have expressed shock over 12 percent tax under GST regime, to be implemented in the state in a day or two.
While expressing surprise over the decision of imposing tax on two Kashmir based agriculture commodities, growers and traders associated with the dry fruit demanded the immediate roll back of tax on the almond and walnut.More than 95 percent walnuts and 90 percent almonds of total Indian production are produced from Kashmir and as per the new GST regime both the agriculture commodities including some other dry fruits have been put under 12 percent tax slab. Under VAT regime both the dry fruits like other farm produce were exempted from any kind of tax in the state.
President of the Dry Fruit Association, Kashmir, Haji Bahadur Khan told Greater Kashmir that any tax on walnut and almond will make Kashmir produce incompetent for export and against the imported ones which are mostly customs free in the markets of rest of the country.
Several dry fruits have been taxed at 12 percent under GST recently which has become a matter of concern for local growers who are hoping that 0 percent tax on Kashmiri walnut and almond giri be maintained, he added.
“The growers and traders have urged the finance minister that tax on Kashmiri walnut and almond should be left untouched by GST even once it is exported outside Lakhanpur. We have requested that 0 percent tax be maintained on Kashmiri walnut as was the case earlier since it is a horticultural commodity,” Khan said.
He said Dry Fruit Association, Kashmir, which includes walnut growers and traders from across Kashmir, had already met Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu urging him to ensure zero percent tax on local walnut, but despite that it has been put under 12 percent tax bracket.
Khan said California walnut has hit lakhs of growers and traders in Kashmir who are associated with this trade. He said intense competition from imported walnut during last few years has led to nosedive in prices of Kashmiri walnuts in mandis and markets outside.
“The Kashmiri walnut giri is a natural organic product and we request government that walnut exports to India from other countries be restricted by levying huge import duty on them. This will help to save livelihood of lakhs of people especially marginalised growers in Kashmir who are already suffering huge losses as prices have dropped by more than 50-60 per cent,” Khan said.
Khan said lakhs of people are associated with walnut and almond production and trade across Kashmir division and some parts of Jammu.