J&K plans to get apples via NAFED, growers unmoved

The official figures, however, suggest that 20,000 metric tons of fruit was procured under the NAFED scheme in last first two weeks across Kashmir. Photo/AFP

Jammu and Kashmir government’s offer to procure apples through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) seems to have remained a non-starter as less number of growers have come forward to sell their produce in the first three weeks.

A state official said there is very less response from the apple growers to the government’s offer for procuring the apples through the NAFED announced in second week of September.

“Some growers had registered for the NAFED scheme after it was announced on September 11, but so far it has remained confined to mere registration process only. In the two major apple producing districts of Shopian and Pulwama in south Kashmir, only a few thousand apple boxes have been procured so far,” he said.

However, the official figures suggest that 20,000 metric tons of fruit was procured under the NAFED scheme in last first two weeks across Kashmir.

Ali Mohammad Dar, a fruit trader from Pulwama said they can’t sell the apples to the NAFED due to two reasons. One, he said, was the commitment with apple traders in outside-state mandis (markets) with whom they have been doing business for decades.

“I have taken advance money from a fruit trader in Azadpur mandi in March. This tradition has been going on for decades. How can I ditch him now and sell the apples to NAFED,” he said.

The second reason, Dar said, was that taking fruit boxes to sell at the designated places earmarked by the government was cumbersome. “There are lot of security issues at the places designated by the government for selling apples. The only aim of the government to launch apple procurement scheme is to show the world that normalcy has returned in Kashmir. We don’t want to become tools for that,” he added.

The growers also said that the sale was not the challenge but plucking, processing, grading, packaging and transportation to the designated places remains a challenge due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir.

“Everyone is suffering losses in Kashmir during these days, but the worst-hit is the apple grower,” said Sameer Wani, a fruit grower from Shopian, adding that the growers here had not plucked a single variety of apples in the area, as the fruit mandis remained shut this season so far. 

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