New Delhi: Soothing fears of apple growers in Kashmir, the Centre has said it will procure the state’s produce. The move comes after apple growers from Shopian, Baramulla, Srinagar, and Anantnag, in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 last month, flagged concerns over monetary losses if the produce was not harvested and exported to other markets on time.
Kashmir has been under lockdown and mobile and internet communication shut since the Centre removed Jammu & Kashmir’s (J&K’s) special status under the Constitution on August 5 and bifurcated the state into two UTs.
Restrictions on movement of people, vehicles and goods have hurt the state’s economy which counts apple as one of its biggest exports. Apple growers in areas like Shopian, Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag have flagged fears of monetary losses if the produce was not harvested and exported to other markets in time.
The Centre on Tuesday announced that the Union home ministry and the ministry of agriculture would oversee the smooth procurement, wherein the Centre would directly buy apples from apple growers in J&K. The harvest of the fruit, growers in Kashmir told Mint, is usually completed by October while the procurement is expected to be completed by December 15.
“The state government will ensure direct payment in the bank account of the apple grower through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). All categories of apples – A, B and C – will be procured from the apple producing districts in Jammu and Kashmir as well as designated mandis in Sopore, Shopian and Srinagar," the notification said.
While a price committee will fix the fair prices for the produce, an official familiar with the development said that all necessary facilities and infrastructure were being set up at mandis across the important production centres to ensure smooth rollout of the procurement.
The Centre also stated that senior functionaries from the Horticulture Department would monitor and supervise the entire procurement operation, while representatives from NAFED and the National Horticulture Board will also be associated with the procurement process.