New Delhi: In a move that is expected to bring cheer to farmers in the Valley, the central government has decided to buy apples directly from apple growers in Jammu and Kashmir under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme.
The scheme, aimed to boost apple growers' income, offers direct transfer subsidies to the bank account of individuals.
"Apple to be procured from growers/aggregators at fruit mandis viz. Sopore, Parimpora, Shopian & Batengo. Special Market intervention Price Scheme for procurement of Apple in J&K; 12 Lakh Metric Tonnes of apple to be procured,” tweeted the Directorate of Information and Publicity.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) will lead the procurement efforts and complete the entire process through designated state government agencies by December 15. The ministry of home affairs and agriculture will oversee the smooth implementation of the process.
Fruit growers, village chiefs and agricultural marketers had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah last week and raised the issue of not getting the right rate for their crop and suffering losses due to transport restrictions in the Valley.
A member of the delegation, on condition of anonymity, had told CNN News18 after the meeting: "We had concerns about the rate at which our products are getting sold. Transport has become a huge problem for perishable goods like apples. This lockdown is not good."
Shah had assured the delegation of finding a solution to their problems.
In a statement, MHA said, "Procurement will be made directly from genuine apple growers. All categories of apples, that is, A, B and C will be procured from all the apple producing districts in Jammu and Kashmir as well as designated mandis in Sopore, Shopian and Srinagar."
The price of the produce, officials said, will be ensured by the state government through direct payment in the bank account of the apple growers via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
The state chief secretary will head the implementation and coordination committee, while a price committee will ensure fair prices. Officials said that price committee will include a member from the National Horticulture Board. A separate quality committee will ensure proper grading of different apple varieties.
Apple grower Mohammed Ashraf Dar and his family, which includes a five-year-old daughter, was shot at by terrorists in Sopore for defying the diktat of not doing business. The government apple procurement policy is also being sent as a confidence-building measure in the Valley where residents have been suffering inconvenience due to administration and civil curfew.