Pulwama: There is very less response from the apple growers of South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian district to the J&K government’s offer for procuring the apple boxes through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) announced recently.
According to wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), initially, some growers had registered for the NAFED scheme after it was announced on September 11, 2019, but the move remained confined to mere registration process only. To substantiate their claim, the apple growers in these twin district stated that NAFED could procure only a few thousand apple boxes in past two weeks.
According to apple growers, there is no buzz for the first time in the traditional fruit mandis of Arhama- Shopian, Prichoo and Pachhaar in Pulwama, and Shopian at this time of the year. While the growers here say the sale was not the challenge, however, plucking, processing, grading, packaging and transportation to the designated places for sale remains a challenge due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir.
The apple growers here believe that the harvest of this cash crop was dragged deliberately to project the normalcy in current uncertainties; however, other agricultural activities have been going on normally.
“Everyone is suffering losses in Kashmir during these days, but the worst hit is apple grower,” Shabir Ahmad, a fruit grower from Pulwama, adding, the growers here have not plucked a single variety of apples in the area, as the fruit Mandis remained shut this season so far. There is complete silence in the entire area.
Many other growers echoed similar statements. “The government’s scheme seems to be a non-starter. We are not much interested in this scheme,” said Aijaz Ahmed, another fruit grower from Prichoo area of Pulwama. The prevailing situation in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370 and 35A by centre on August 5 has put life on halt and the apple growers have also decided not to pluck apple crop in the wake of revocation of special status.
Meanwhile, in these tough times, majority of the fruit growers are clueless about the future strategy in absence of leadership in the prevailing situation in Kashmir. As growers seem less interested in the government’s scheme, the official figures suggest that 20,000 metric tons of fruit have been procured under NAFED scheme in last two weeks. (KNO)