Kashmir’s apple growers to benefit as Centre extends procurement policy
The Market Intervention Scheme was launched for the first time in September 2019 and was widely appreciated by the apple growers across Jammu and Kashmir particularly when they could not sell their produce due to the restrictions in Kashmir Valley following the revocation of Article 370.Updated: Oct 22, 2020, 13:45 IST
Apple growers in Kashmir are expected to get a boost after the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the extension of the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of apples for the current season.
Fruit is one of the major items of trade in Kashmir and generates a revenue of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore and provides direct or indirect benefits to 2.5 million people in the valley.
Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha termed the decision to extend the MIS as a great relief for apple growers and said it will benefit the horticulture sector in J&K and thanked Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Union cabinet for extending the scheme.
“The move will ensure optimum prices to the apple farmers and give necessary fillip to the economy. The scheme is a great relief for apple growers. It will provide a comprehensive insurance cover against any obstacle thus helping in stabilizing the income of the apple farmers. It will also address all issues related to marketing and transportation, in addition to providing optimum returns to apple growers” the Lt Governor said in a statement.
Sinha said the government is committed to take forward the horticulture sector as it will contribute to the improvement of livelihood of apple growers.
“Since 12 LMT (lakh metric tonne) of apples can be procured under this scheme, besides ensuring profitability, it will also create rural employment through supplementary services such as packaging, transportation.”
The MIS scheme was launched for the first time in September 2019 and was widely appreciated by the apple growers across J&K particularly when they could not sell their produce due to the restrictions in Kashmir Valley following the revocation of Article 370.
Officials said the scheme will stabilise the prices of the apple in the market and ensure reduction of distress sales.
Under the scheme, apples will be procured by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) directly from the growers/aggregators at optimum prices at five designated collection centres (Fruit & Vegetable Mandies) in Sopore (Baramulla), Parimpora (Srinagar), Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag. The payment will be directly credited into the bank accounts of the growers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
“The scheme, among other things, will address all issues including marketing and grading of apples, procurement and storage. The scheme has been launched after taking into consideration the demands of apple growers,” said a senior officer of horticulture department.
The Union cabinet has also allowed NAFED to utilize a government guarantee of Rs. 2,500 crore for this operation. The losses, if any, to be incurred in this operation will be shared between the Central Government and UT administration of J&K on 50:50 basis.
Necessary infrastructure and facilities have been created at the designated collection centres for smooth operation of the scheme and senior-level functionaries from the horticulture department will be monitoring and supervising the procurement at the mandis.
Officials said that representatives from NAFED and the National Horticulture Board will be associated with the procurement and other processes along with staff drawn from the horticulture and agriculture departments.
“Market Intervention Scheme for procurement of apples through agency NAFED at 5 procurement centres of Kashmir has been extended this year. It is really an excellent step taken by the central government,” director of horticulture department Ajaz Ahmad Bhat said.