Licences given to too many traders, growers not receiving payment quite common
Shopian: Trade at the Shopian fruit mandi, Kashmir’s largest wholesale market for apple, is fraught with risks in the absence of government checks and reliable methods of payment. Growers often find themselves duped when the payment due to them is defaulted on.
Every year, hundreds of apple growers are seen visiting homes and offices of the traders to plead for the payment of their dues. Many of the traders even go into hiding in different states of India, either after sustaining losses or themselves being cheated by other traders.
According to Nazir Ahmad, a small-scale trader who buys about a thousand boxes from local orchards every year, this is a relatively new phenomenon. “When the local mandis were introduced by the government, many so-called businessmen were given space in the mandis to operate from. To earn more and outdo other traders, they made purchases without any knowledge of how this market works. They sustained losses and then failed to pay the growers,” Ahmad said.
He added that there are many instances where traders have sold their land or other assets to pay for the fruit they had purchased.
Parvaiz Ahmad Bhat is among the growers who have been victims of the dodgy mandi business. He sold his apple boxes to a trader in 2017 but is yet to get the money for them.
“I suggest growers to sell their produce to only those traders who are honest, no matter if they purchase it for a few rupees lesser than the rogues do,” Bhat said, adding that those who have the intention to cheat are the ones who give higher rates for the fruit.
Khursheed Ahmad is a trader who himself fell prey to the assurances of a non-local trader who later defaulted on payments amounting to Rs 30 lakh. Khursheed had sold this trader apple boxes from his own village and neighbouring localities. Khursheed had to sell a kanal of his land to pay those he had purchased apples from, but there are still many to whom he owes money.
In Shopian’s mega fruit mandi at Aglar, about 600 traders have got government licences to do business. Many of them, according to the local traders, have no property or assets worth the purchases they make, so if they fail to make the payment, there is no way it can be recovered from them by other means.
Muhammad Amin Peer, a prominent trader at the Shopian mandi, told Kashmir Reader that there are many shortcomings from the government’s side, but it is the grower who has to be vigilant against possibility of fraud or default.
“Just an hour ago I received a call from Anantnag where a grower was complaining that somebody from Shopian has taken his fruit but hasn’t paid the money. After enquiring about it from the mandi authorities, I learnt that the said trader has cheated many people across Kashmir and he hasn’t even a licence or allotted space (locally known as fadd) in the mandi,” Peer said.
He said that strict action should be taken against such people and the government should cancel the licences of those who don’t have any assets worth the purchases they make.
The Shopian mandi’s president couldn’t be reached for his comments.