Days after apple growers from Kashmir met Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressing fear of massive losses this season due to restrictions on movement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decided to oversee a centralised procurement of apples from the Valley.
Last week, apple growers along with Panchayat members from the state met the home minister and apprised him of the difficulties they were facing in taking their produce to markets because of restrictions imposed since August 5 announcement on the abrogation of Article 370.
Sources in the Home Ministry said the government has decided that as many as 12 metric tonnes of apples would be procured through local Mandis in Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla and National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) would be the central agency in charge of procurement.
"NAFED will complete the entire process of procurement through designated state government agencies by 15th December 2019. Procurement will be made directly from genuine apple growers," an MHA official said.
Payments for the produce procured would be transferred directly to the bank account of the apple farmer through the DBT route, sources said.
For fixing the price of the apple, based on its variety and grade, the government will constitute a State Level Price Fixation Committee for fixing the procurement price for A, B and C grade apple and other incidental charges like packaging, transportation, storage and related expenditure. The Price Committee includes a member from the National Horticulture Board, MHA sources said.
There would also be a Quality Committee that will ensure proper grading of varieties of apples.
"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," a home ministry official said.
The chief secretary, sources said, has already directed all DCs to launch a sustained campaign to generate awareness among the fruit growers about Centre’s special market intervention scheme. He has also directed them to start the process of their registration, collecting their Aadhaar and bank account details so that after procurement of the apple, payment can be made directly into their bank accounts within a period of 48 hrs.
Sources said the amount of apple being centrally procured by the Centre is 60 per cent of the total produce of the state last year.