Beijing Olympics cast shadow over Kashmir apples

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Srinagar, May 2 : The Chinese Government's decision to close down pesticide factories to cut down on the emission of green house gases ahead of the Beijing Olympics, has hit apple growers in far away Kashmir where prices of pesticides have shot up.

The cultivation of a healthy crop of Kashmir apples, famous world wide for their taste and flavour, depends heavily on Chinese pesticides and fungicides.

China's decision and the escalation in the prices of fungicides and pesticides comes at a time when the season of spraying of fungicides and pesticides is in full swing to control many diseases for ensuring a healthy plentiful apple crop.

"Ever since this announcement of Beijing Olympics has taken place and ever since China has started preparing for it, the prices of pesticides and fungicides have gone up," said Nazir Ahmad, an apple grower.

Acknowledging the sudden rise in prices, the officials at the Kashmir's horticulture department have advised the growers to switch over to indigenous fungicides and pesticides, which are readily available in market at normal rates.

"Pesticides from China have been popular in Kashmir. With China's decision to close down pesticide factories, the prices have gone up. It is a globally known fact that China provides cheapest pesticides in the global market," said Manzoor Ahmad, a horticulture development officer.

Authorities in China said that with the beginning of the one-year countdown to the Beijing Olympics, the government has launched a campaign against the use of highly potent and poisonous pesticides. Five pesticides were banned earlier this year in China, and the Agricultureinistry was compiling a blacklist of companies still making them.

According to reports, China uses twice as much pesticides annually as is actually needed which has exacerbated the country's food safety problems.

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