Srinagar: The government is mulling to open one more collection centre for procuring apples in Kulgam under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) in coming days.
Known as ‘rice bowl of Kashmir’, vast paddy fields were converted into apple orchards in the last decade in the district, making a large number of families dependent on the produce.
Director Horticulture, Kashmir Ajaz Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader the decision to procure apples at Kulgam mandi was taken in the interest of farmers.
Kulgam fruit mandi would be the fifth procurement point under MIS in Kashmir after Sopore, Parimpora, Anantnag, and Shopian fruit mandis.
The government announced the MIS to procure apple crop through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), on September 12 to stop distress sales due to prevailing lockdown and communications blockade.
The scheme drew 3000 growers to get registered under the scheme and more than 25,000 apple boxes have been collected at the four collection centers since its launch.
“On an average, more than 1000 boxes are procured from Sopore and Parimpora fruit mandi every day,” Bhat said, adding, Botango fruit mandi at Anantnag has got maximum response from the farmers.
According to him, the Jammu and Kashmir government has provided Rs 100 crore to procure apple and the credit limit for NAFED was extended to Rs 2500 crore.
A box of apple weighing 18-21 kilograms is purchased from growers at the rate of Rs 54, Rs 38 and Rs 15.75 per kg for A, B and C grade, respectively. But the government is expected to hike the rates to inspire more growers to sell their produce under the scheme, an official said.
Apples are cultivated on 3.87 lakh hectares of land in Kashmir and contribute 75 per cent of the apples produced in India. It fetches Rs 7,500 crore annually and supports 45 percent of the population in J&K. This year, the government pegged 10 percent more revenue given the bumper crop.