Government to procure Kashmiri apples, pay farmers via Direct Benefit Transfer

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday fixed December 15 as the deadline for procuring apples directly from farmers in Jammu and Kashmir and assured them that they won’t suffer losses.

Officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs said the apples would be procured by the government-run National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). The announcement comes in the wake of terrorists threatening some apple growers not to sell their produce in the market.

On August 28, Governor Satya Pal Malik had announced that NAFED will procure more than 50 percent of the apple produce of J&K. This newspaper had reported on September 4 that the government was considering procuring the entire apple crop of the state.

All categories of apples — A, B and C — in the 2019 season will be procured from all the apple-producing districts in J&K as well as designated mandis (wholesale markets) in Sopore, Shopian, and Srinagar, a senior government official said. The state administration will ensure direct payment in the bank accounts of apple growers through direct benefit transfer.

The official said the government will ensure fair prices for various categories and this would be decided by the price committee that includes a member from the National Horticulture Board.  The Quality Committee will ensure proper grading of varieties.

The implementation and coordination committee at the state level will be chaired by the state chief secretary while the Union ministries of agriculture and home affairs and other central agencies will oversee smooth implementation of the scheme, another official said.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had on Saturday said 750 trucks carrying apples leave the Valley every day for trade in other parts of the country.

Following diktats of the Pakistan-based handlers to disrupt the trading of fruits, two militants had last Friday attacked family members of a prominent fruit merchant in Sopore, injuring his 25-year-old son and two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

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