Apple traders say the scheme is late and they need to transport ripe varieties of apples to different markets.

 

SRINAGAR: People involved in the fruit trade have suffered heavy losses in the past few weeks. Now, the Rs 1,500 crore apple trade is facing a similar situation as trucks are not ready to transport apples out of the Kashmir valley.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s statement, however, has given a little hope as he launched a market intervention scheme for apples of Jammu & Kashmir. According to an official spokesperson, this scheme has been formulated with an objective of providing optimum prices to the apple growers. This scheme has been approved by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the current harvesting season.

Many apple traders have told the media that the scheme was already late as many varieties of apples are ripe for the markets, but it would take more time for the government to launch the scheme and they were in need of transport to get these varieties of apples to the different markets.

While the government has claimed that the horticulture sector in Jammu & Kashmir has a turnover of Rs 8,000 crore annually and over seven lakh families were directly or indirectly associated with this trade, under the new scheme, it would be the responsibility of the government for grading of apples and their procurement, storage and marketing. Apple traders are hopeful that the government will understand the urgency and start procuring the apples without any further delay, especially from Sopore of North Kashmir. Recently, one of the traders of Sopore suffered injuries along with his family when some gunmen fired upon them. After 24 hours, police claimed that they had killed the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba terrorist Asif Maqbool Bhat who was involved in the firing incident.

The horticulture sector in the past few years has suffered a lot as the traders could not get a proper price for their produce in different markets and unrest in the valley crippled the business, forcing them to sell their produce at half the price due to the delay in transportation from Kashmir.

“If the scheme is implemented on time, it will save us from further losses as transporting these apples has become a major issue,” said Ghulam Muhammad Sopori, an apple dealer in Sopore.

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