Minister for Horticulture, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari, today welcomed the central government’s decision raising import duties up to 100 percent on five products, including shelled almond and walnut.Thanking the central government for the decision, the Minister said that this move will protect the domestic growers and give them a necessary helping hand by curbing cheaper imports.Bukhari said “The growers from J&K were especially suffering due to earlier marketing practices, as the state is the major supplier for these products for the domestic market. We had taken up this issue with the central government on multiple occasions and are happy that the Union government took cognizance of people’s concerns involved in the trade of these products.“Currently, international imports hold 98% of the domestic market for Walnuts and the remaining 8% is fed by states including J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; the figures for Almonds also reflect a similar story. Domestic growers despite producing a fine quality have to face stiff competition as they cannot withstand the competitive pricing offered by the international imports.“With this increase in import duty, the domestic growers will get a competitive edge in the market and will lead to increase in market preference for local production”, the Minister added.Pertinently, Invoking "emergency powers" to increase import duties under Section 8A of the Customs Act, the Union Finance Ministry increased basic customs duty on walnut in shell from 30 percent to 100 percent. The duty on shelled almond was also hiked to Rs 100 per kg from Rs 65 per kg, while the basic customs duty on wheat has been increased to 30 percent from 20 percent.Import of protein concentrate will now be subject to 40 percent duty, up from 10 percent. However, the duty on protein concentrate and textured protein substance has been raised to 40 percent, from 30 percent, according to notifications issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).