Sweet bonanza for apple growers in Indian Kashmir

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The apple industry brings about 100 billion rupees revenue to the union territory and provides livelihood to several thousand persons in the region as well as outside. — Courtesy photo
The apple industry brings about 100 billion rupees revenue to the union territory and provides livelihood to several thousand persons in the region as well as outside. — Courtesy photo

NEW DELHI — The apple growers in Kashmir, nearly one-third of its population, are getting the best of both the worlds — not only are they benefiting from generous subsidies, the government's decision to buy at least 60 percent of their produce this year would bring an added bonanza.

The federal government has been paying special attention to apple growers and other farmers and horticulturists in the union territory for the past year. The apple industry brings about 100 billion rupees revenue to the union territory and provides livelihood to several thousand persons in the region as well as outside.

The government initiatives will bring about an additional revenue of Rs 50 billion rupees and generate livelihood not only in the farming community but also for truck drivers, cleaners, packers, farm labor, and a host of supporting units that sustain the apple economy.

The farmers had to shell out a good part of their savings to store their produce. Now the government has offered a generous subsidy to the farmers to help them to construct packing sheds near their farms so that they can safely keep their produce, fertilizers, equipment, and other necessary items. The federal government offers Rs 180,000 and the union territory an additional 20,000 rupees, totaling 200,000 rupees.

The federal government's latest announcement to buy at least 60 percent of apples from farmers in the union territory directly will come as a major boost to the farmers as well as the UT economy. The government will buy 1 million and 300 metric tons through the public sector procurement entity, NABARD and farmers will get the proceeds directly into their bank accounts.

In one stroke, this will sideline the apple export cartel which has been a major problem for apple growers in the union territory. The farmers are expected to earn 30 percent more income from their produce than in previous years.

To help farmers get a fair price for their produce, a state-level Price Fixation Committee with members of the Central government, horticulture department of Jammu and Kashmir and NAFED has been constituted to fix the procurement price for A, B and C grade apple and other incidental charges like packaging, transportation, storage and related expenditure. The government has decided to set the price at 5 percent more than last year's price.

In another important initiative, apple growers in the union territory are being provided with high-density plants — these plants occupy less space and start producing fruits within two years of plantation. Traditionally, apple growers used to plant 12 to 15 apple trees in one Kanal. Now they can grow 166 high-density apple trees in one Kanal.

The apple growers are surely rejoicing the making of the new union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. — Agencies


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