In a major push to boost the economy of Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Government has decided to procure apples directly from the growers by introducing the special market intervention price scheme (MISP). The scheme has come as a respite for apple growers in the Kashmir valley, as Under the scheme that is being introduced nearly 12 Lakh metric tons of apples will be procured directly from the growers in the Kashmir division on remunerative prices. The historic step has been taken by which nearly 60% of the estimated annual apple produce will be procured directly by the government.
"It would be for the first time in the history of J&K that such a special scheme is being introduced wherein nearly 60% of the estimated annual apple production, which last year stood at 20 Lakh MTs will be procured from the apple growers nearer their door steps" state chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam said during a meeting.
The scheme is expected to enhance the income of the apple growers in Kashmir Valley by about Rs 2000 crore. The period of procurement would be from September 1, 2019, to March 1, 2020. The fund requirement for the scheme has been estimated as Rs 8000 Crore.
Under the scheme, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India and the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) will procure apples in J&K from the growers/aggregators so as to ensure remunerative prices for the Apple crop. While the Nodal procurement agency from Government of India will be NAFED, the Nodal procurement agency from Government of Jammu and Kashmir will be the Directorate of Horticulture, Planning and Marketing, supported by the Directorate of Horticulture and the JKHPMC. "The apples will be procured from the growers/aggregators at Fruit Mandis situated in Sopore (Baramulla), Parimpora (Srinagar), Shopian, and Batengo (Anantnag)," an official spokesman stated. He further added that all the necessary facilities and infrastructure were being created at these Mandis for smooth operationalization of the scheme.
According to the spokesperson, "Senior level functionaries from Horticulture Department will be monitoring and supervising the entire procurement operation at the Mandis. Representatives from NAFED and National Horticulture Board will be associated with the procurement and other processes at the Mandis along with the necessary staff to be drawn from Horticulture and Agriculture Department."
To fix the price of the Apple based on its variety and grade, the Government will constitute a State Level Price Fixation Committee to fix the procurement price for A, B, and C grade apples and other incidental charges such as packaging, transportation, storage, and related expenditure. "The Quality Control cum Grading Committees will be constituted for each Mandi for validation cum certification of the Apple to be procured at the Mandis. The Committee will assess the quality of the apples, based on ocular, scientific, and/or any other available means," the spokesman said. The apple produce after validation cum certification by the designated Committees will be procured by NAFED from the apple growers through Directorate of Horticulture, Planning, and Marketing. The payments will be made through DBT mode directly into the Bank Accounts of the apple growers as admissible within 48 hrs of procurement by the Directorate of Horticulture, Planning, and Marketing.
The move by the Union Government has also come as a setback for Pakistan. Pakistan-backed terrorists in the valley wanted to crush the economy of the valley by threating the people especially apple growers to not sell their produce. Last week four members of an apple grower’s family were injured when terrorists fired at them, including a 2-year-old girl child. The terrorists have been intimidating the apple growers not to sell their produce a mark of “protest” against the Center’s move to abrogate article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.