'Apple Deal': Govt scheme for farmers proves 'damp-squib'
The tall claims of J&K government have fallen flat after it failed to disburse the amount to maximum number of farmers who sold their apple boxes under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) launched by the administration on August 12.To date, over 30,000 apple boxes have been procured at four mandis of Kashmir from farmers after 3000 farmers have registered themselves through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), which is the nodal agency for procuring apples.Sources in the Horticulture Department told wire service-Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that to date, apple boxes worth over rupees two crore have been procured from the farmers in four fruit mandis of Kashmir, but only rupees 40 lakh was released into the bank accounts of beneficiaries'."The department could only disburse the amount to only quarter of farmers amounting total rupees 40 lakh out of over rupees two crore procurement from the farmers," sources said.Rest of the around 75 percent of farmers who sold their cash crop under the scheme didn't receive the amount within promised time.Sources in the department, however, said the amount is pending in the department, but has not been disbursed among the farmers.
He said: "On an average, more than 1000 boxes are procured from Sopore and Parimpora fruit mandi every day and Botango fruit mandi at Anantnag has maximum response from the farmers".The distressed farmers said they have been cheated by the authorities for not releasing the amount on time, despite the fact that government has already provided Rs 100 crore to procure the crop from growers.Not only the sanctioned amount, the government has also extended the credit limit for NAFED up to Rs 2500 crore to rescue the distressed farmers.Under the MIS three grades of apple boxes are purchased from the growers at Rs 54, Rs 38 and Rs 15.75 for A, B and C grade apples, respectively.Apples are cultivated on 3.87 lakh hectares of land in Kashmir and contributes 75 per cent of the apples produced in India, which fetches Rs 8000 crore annually and supports 45 percent of the population in J&K. Due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370, the fruit sellers have settled for lesser prices this season despite proper processing, packaging and transportation. (KNO)