As part of its long-term strategy to win over different sections of people from the Valley and normalise the situation there, the Centre has decided to procure apples cultivated in Jammu & Kashmir directly from farmers by the Government-run National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED).
The payment will be delivered to bank accounts of farmers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme. Officials said on Tuesday that NAFED has been directed to finish the entire procurement process by December 15 through State’s agencies.
The announcement came in the wake of reports that terrorists were threatening apple growers not to sell their produce in the market following abrogation of the special status given to J&K under Article 370 and bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories.
“The Government of India has announced procurement of apples produced in J&K during the current season 2019. The NAFED will complete the entire process of procurement through designated State Government agencies by December 15,” said officials.
The objective of the NAFED is to promote co-operative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit farmers. The procurement will be made directly from genuine apple growers and the State administration will ensure direct payment in bank accounts of apple growers through DBT.
All categories of apples i.e. A, B and C will be procured from all the apple producing districts in J&K as well as designated mandis (wholesale markets) in Sopore, Shopian and Srinagar, the official said. Fair prices for various categories will be fixed by the price committee that includes a member from the National Horticulture Board. Quality Committee will ensure proper grading of varieties of apples.
The implementation and coordination committee at the State level will be chaired by the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Secretary while the Union Ministries of Agriculture, and Home Affairs and other Central agencies will oversee smooth implementation of the scheme, another official said. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had on Saturday said 750 trucks carrying apples leave the Valley everyday for trade in other parts of the country.
Following diktats of the Pakistan-based handlers to disrupt the trading of fruits, two militants had last Friday attacked family members of a prominent fruit merchant in Sopore, injuring his 25-year-old son and two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.