The government has decided to directly buy apples from apple growers in Jammu and Kashmir under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme that offers direct transfer subsidies to the bank account of individuals. The apple procurement for the current season will be completed by National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) by December 15 and the money will be transferred into the bank accounts of the apple growers.
According to a notification, NAFED will complete the procurement through designated state government agencies. The government said that the procurement will be made directly from genuine apple growers.
The notification stated that all categories of apples, i.e A, B and C will be procured from all the apple producing districts in Jammu and Kashmir as well as designated mandis in Sopore, Shopian and Srinagar.
The prices will be fixed by the Price Committee that also includes a member from the National Horticulture Board. Fair prices for various categories will be levied by the committee. The Quality Committee will ensure proper grading of varieties of apples.
The notification also stated that the implementation and coordination committee at the state level will be chaired by the Chief Secretary. "Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Home Affairs and other Central agencies will oversee smooth implementation of the Scheme," it added.
Last week, Srinagar district magistrate Shahid Choudhary said, "Exciting news for apple growers. The NAFED is set to buy in all three grades at an impressive price. Every single fruit will bring in greater value, enhanced income at no transportation hassles."
With revenue of around Rs 1,200 crore a year, apple cultivation is the backbone of the Kashmir economy. It has taken a hit following the abrogation of Article 370. Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh account for three-quarter of India's apple crop.