Shopian: Though the government has reintroduced the market intervention scheme (MIS), orchardists and fruit traders call this move too late as most of this year’s produce has either been already sold in markets or stored in cold chains in different parts of Kashmir.
Orchardists said that the apple crop this year was the lowest in decades and more than 50 percent of the produce was affected by diseases like scab or by unseasonal hailstorms. The government should have introduced the scheme at the beginning of the harvesting season if the aim was to help the growers, they said.
Muhammad Amin Pir, a well-known trader and orchardist from Shopian, said that introducing this scheme at this stage is clearly a job being done on paper. “They have introduced it now so that they don’t have to buy the fruit,” he said, adding that 70 percent of this year’s produce has either been sold or stored in cold storage units.
Last year, after abrogation of Article 370, the government of India introduced the MIS under National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) which bought a large chunk of fruit in the valley amid the lockdown imposed on public movement.
Apple growers also say that the parameters which are being set for grading should be eased since the condition of this year’s fruit isn’t like it was in the past. “Last year they gave lesser price to B and C grade apple and sold it in outside markets at the lesser prices, which not only affected the rates of B and C grade fruit but also rates of grade A apple outside Kashmir,” said Muhammad Ashraf, president of the mega fruit mandi at Aglar Shopian.
He said that demands for the scheme earlier in the year were ignored by the government and introducing it now is least helpful to the economically distressed industry.
Kashmir has this year produced about 15 lakh metric tonnes of apple, which according to horticulture experts is 35 percent less as compared to last year when Kashmir produced about 23 lakh metric tonnes.