Procurement of apples in J&K

This year also the Government is out to help apple growers by improving upon and extending the ‘Market Intervention Scheme’ (MIS) by procuring 12 lakh tonnes of apples through cooperative NAFED during the current 2020-21 season.It may be recalled that a breakthrough in the resolution of the hassles free sale and assured receipt of proceeds by the apple growers was done, for the first time last year, by the Government by lifting harvested crops from the doorsteps of the apple merchants and growers which was widely appreciated. In this connection, the Union cabinet approved the extension of the MIS on the same terms and conditions as was done during 2019-20 in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir . A matter to cheer up for the apple traders and growers in Jammu and Kashmir.The desired move of the central Government reminiscent of a much helpful intervention in the sale of apples was indicative of realising the difficulties faced by majority of the growers in selling the product without any hassles and elements of uncertainties. The move was not only to provide an effective marketing platform to the apple traders but to ensuring lifting of and buying the produce by the designated agency and also to get remunerative prices by them, just at their doorsteps.
The Government was going to back the initiative with a guarantee of Rs.2500 crore thus providing a cushion against risks, if any, and in cases of some losses suffered during the operation by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) with the stipulation of sharing the losses on 50 ;50 basis between the central and the UT Governments was going to make the process smooth . Immediately after procurement of the apples directly from the growers and traders , payments will be made through Direct Benefit Transfer into their respective Bank accounts. This year’s Government move assumes more significance in view of the current Corona pandemic which restricts physical movement of sellers and buyers and on that count, the fears of the growers of apple stand fully allayed. UT designated Agencies like Directorate of Planning and Marketing , Department of Horticulture and Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Processing and Marketing Corporation (JKHPMC) were to get ‘engrossed’ in the procurement process. So, involvement of as many agencies should find enough time and means to procure 12 lakh tonnes within less than two months but much before the first snowfall and rains of the winter season were expected.
As to the issue of fixation of prices , the mode and the method , it is decided that the same constituted Designated Price Committee of last year will be continued this year also for fixing prices of different grades and varieties of apples for which it is imperative that the basic critical infrastructure and facilities were provided in the designated Mandis . We fairly know that no move or scheme, howsoever ambitious, can prove a success on the ground unless backed by monitoring, follow up and appraising of the progress levels in the process of implementation . This sensitive part of the operation was going to be looked after by a Coordination Committee under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary.
The move of direct Government intervention and thus possibly bailing out the growers facing problems in making the marketing process , the ultimate destination of any produce, very easy – had other advantages also. The decision of the Government was, prima facie, to frustrate and pre-empt any distress sale. It was loaded with addressing the problems of heaping freshly harvested apples in the open for many days in the Mandis where proper and adequate storing facilities were not available, creating employment opportunities, injecting liquidity in the strained economic conditions arisen due to the Corona pandemic and thus providing a stimulus to the economic system to a larger extent . While the Lieutenant Governor has thanked the Prime Minister for this move, at the same time, it reflected the aim of the Government to ensure the Horticulture sector of the UT progressed more to better the livelihood of the orchardists.