Jammu farmers to directly sell organic apples in Pune this weekend

Anjali Marar
These apples cost anywhere between Rs 120 to Rs 150 in markets located in metro cities and other urban areas like Pune. (Express photo: Lalit Kumar)

In possibly a first, farmers from Jammu s Doda district will try to sell the apples cultivated by them directly to consumers in Pune and earn good returns for their produce this year. The first consignment of trucks carrying 15,000 kg of organic apples, grown in orchards in Doda district, was shipped on Monday and will be available in Pune by this weekend.

According to farmers from the region, the maximum returns earned from local markets is between Rs 40 to Rs 45 per kg, even for top-grade apples. With limited facility to store and preserve these perishables locally, farmers earn very little in Jammu and Kashmir.

These apples cost anywhere between Rs 120 to Rs 150 in markets located in metro cities and other urban areas like Pune.

When we met the farmers, horticulture and agriculture experts, the problem of low income came to the fore. Farmers continue to sell their produce in the traditional manner, which is not contributing much to their income. On a trial basis, we want to experiment with some new ways of selling and one of them is directly linking the farmer to the consumer, particularly in cities, District Collector of Doda, Sagar Doifode, told The Indian Express.

In the initial phase, the administration has tied up with some NGOs and associations working in Pune. The administration is also keen to tie up with sellers in cities like Pune and Mumbai, who can buy the farm produce directly,offer better prices and help the growers earn better returns, said Doifode.

If this model succeeds, we can also send the produce to neighbouring districts like Ahmednagar, Satara and others. The district administration will take all responsibility for the supply of good-quality produce, appropriate packaging and timely delivery to consumers. If this model is successful, the administration can send other produce from the region, including walnuts, apricots and peaches, in a similar manner, said Doifode.

The administration has fixed the cost at Rs 75 per kg of apple, which is nearly Rs 25 more than what the farmer earns in local markets. The same apples otherwise cost anywhere between Rs 120 to Rs 150 in the city markets, making it a win-win situation both for the farmers and the buyers, he added.

The sale of apples is among the many steps initiated by the Doda district administration for the welfare of farmers and to promote better agriculture practices in the hilly Jammu district. Last week, the administration had sent a group of farmers to Pune, and they visited many of city s agriculture-based institutions and industries to study local farming practices.

Thanks to a good winter season, Doda apple growers this year managed to get a bumper produce. Nearly 80 per cent of farming in Doda is organic.

The administration has already identified and sent farmer representatives with the consignment that is expected to arrive in Pune by Friday. They will directly sell the 1,200 boxes of apples on September 21 and September 22 at a facility organised by Sarhad, a Pune-based NGO, that is co-ordinating this endeavour.

We are also in talks with officials from Baramulla and Kupwara districts, said Sanjay Nahar, founder of Sarhad.