NEW DELHI: The government has started its procurement drive through NAFED to buy apples from Jammu and Kashmir but the people have not responded very enthusiastically, according to official data accessed by this newspaper. In the first leg, apples have been either been procured or facilities set up for their procurement in Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar. The procurement has begun in the backdrop of terrorists burning some apple orchards to threaten apple farmers.
The Union government had earlier announced that it is looking to procure about 12 lakh tonnes or 60-70 per cent of apples from growers so that farmers don’t suffer due to due to prevalent situation in the Kashmir Valley. According to official data as on September 16, 152 apple growers had registered for the sale of their apples. A total of 1635.5 kg of apples was made available for procurement in Anantnag. Of the total, A-grade apples weighing 1,392 kg and B-grade apples weighing 243.5 kg was sold to NAFED at a cost of Rs 81,150.
Only 36 apple growers in Srinagar had filled forms for the sale of their fruits till September 16. Similarly, only 26 apple growers have completed formalities for sale of their fruits. Shopian, where some apple orchards were targeted, is yet to start the process of procurement. “The process of procurement has not started in Shopian because plucking begins late in the district. It will start from September 25,” an official said. The scheme has just been launched and, therefore, the slow pace was “natural” in these circumstances, the official said.
J&K accounts for nearly 70-80 per cent of the overall apple production in India. In 2018-19, the state produced 18.82 lakh tonnes of apples. According to the government scheme, the payments to apple farmers will be made directly to growers' accounts via Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT).