Earlier this week, the central government decided to procure apples directly from the producers in Jammu and Kashmir. The move came days after apple growers from the Valley met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and expressed concerns over losses due to movement curbs.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the procurement will be led by National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and the entire process will be completed through designated state government agencies by December 15.
NAFED is an apex organisation of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India and is registered under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act. It was founded in 1958 and is one of the central nodal agencies for procurement of 16 notified agricultural commodities of oilseeds, pulses and cotton under Price Support Scheme (PSS) and Price Stabilization Fund (PSF). It is also the sole central nodal agency for procurement of milling, ball copra and de-husked coconut under PSS.
The Federation supplies the procured pulses under PSF to several institutions such as the Army, and to state governments under the Public Distribution System and Mid-Day Meal schemes.
NAFED’s other major business areas include production of ‘Bio CNG’, organic farming, international trade, certified seed production, construction and maintenance of post harvest infrastructure including warehouses and cold chains.
According to its latest available annual report for the year 2017-18, NAFED procured more than 31.28 lakh tonnes of oilseeds and pulses under PSS/PSF schemes valuing at almost Rs 13,596 crore.
Interestingly, NAFED has not procured a single apple in over three decades as per a media report, the job that it has been tasked with now.
Jammu and Kashmir accounts for nearly 70-80 per cent of the overall apple production in the country. In 2018-19, apple production was 18.82 lakh tonnes in J&K, while the total national figure for the same was 23.71 lakh tonnes (advance estimates).
The government is looking to procure about 12 lakh tonnes or 60-70 per cent of apples from growers in J&K to help ease the concerns and fear of losses among producers due to prevalent situation in the Valley.
"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 MHA said in a statement.
As per the scheme, the payments will be made directly to growers’ accounts via Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT).