The apple export has witnessed a dip of around 1.35 lakh metric tonnes this year, in wake of the communication blockade, restrictions and protests after August 5, when special status of the state was revoked and J&K was downgraded to two Union Territories.
The officials in the administration claim that exports are likely to rise between October and December, when 70 percent of apple harvest is exported every year. The government also claims that 99 percent the area of J&K doesn’t have restrictions on movement and post paid mobile services are being restored after 71 days now on October 14, which officials say will also help in the harvest and export.
According to government officials, Kashmir exports around 20 lakh metric tons of apple every year and the horticulture industry is pegged to be worth around 8000 to 9000 crore including the employment it generates.
Fruit growers in many areas in southern and northern Kashmir delayed harvest the fruit as a mark of protest against August 5 decision and the clampdown that followed. In some areas of southern Kashmir, militants asked orchardists to not harvest apple crop and wait for their directions. Some of the farmers harvested the crop under mutually agreed timetable.
In an attempt to counter the protests and urge farmers to harvest the apple crop, administration introduced, Market Intervention Scheme, to directly buy apple from the farmers from four stations in the Valley. However, MIS has evoked a meager response till now as farmers complained of grading standards and prices government announced. It is likely to attract more growers after revision of prices of different varieties of apple, government decided last week.
Under MIS 78800 boxes of apple worth around Rs 5 crore have been procured, through National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation, till October 9 at its four centers in Shopian, Srinagar, Anantnag and Sopore.
Southern Kashmir’s Shopian witnessed the coldest response to MIS, with just 2381 boxes procured, while as at Anantnag center in the same region the highest number of over 70,000 apple boxes were procured. In Sopore of northern Kashmir government procured around 3700 boxes and the number was at 2500 boxes in Srinagar.
“There is a network of aggregators in the ecosystem of fruit business, which discourages farmers to sell their produce directly as they have long term relation of monetary exchanges…We just want to facilitate a farmer in distress and MIS shouldn’t be seen as a complete alternative for fruit trade going on for many decades,” Secretary Horticulture, J&K administration Manzoor Ahmad Lone told ET.
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