Updated: October 29, 2019 7:00:37 am
WHILE MORE than half of the apple harvesting season is over, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) has been able to procure less than 1per cent of the total production in Jammu and Kashmir.
Till Sunday, NAFED had bought about 4,500 tons (3 lakh boxes) of apples, while the projected production in the state is about 20 lakh tons.
“The procurement of apples in J&K has been below our expectations. The initial estimation of procurement was 10-12 lakh tons in the period between September 15 and December 15 this year, but there has been poor response due to the prevailing situation,” said a NAFED official. He said restrictions on mobile and Internet services as well as transportation challenges hindered procurement.
“There is no target (for procurement). We have been asked to buy from the mandis. We want to buy as much as we can,” he said.
NAFED started procuring apples on September 12, through the J&K Directorate of Horticulture, Planning & Marketing. According to sources, till October 27, only 3,350 apple-growing farmers had registered to sell their produce to the agency designated by NAFED.
Of the 3 lakh boxes procured so far, about 80 per cent was from Anantnag district, while the remaining boxes were purchased from mandis in Shopian, Kulgam, Sopore and Srinagar. Of these, about 90,000 boxes have been sold at different mandis in Punjab, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Delhi.
“We are in the middle of the harvesting season, the daily procurement is increasing now and we hope to touch 1 lakh tons by the end of the season,” said sources.
“The price of the apples procured so far has been in the range of Rs 17- 70 per kg…” said sources. While the official did not disclose the actual price at which NAFED sold these apples, he said a box, weighing about 16 kg, was sold at an approximate loss of Rs 200. He said NAFED has so far spent about Rs 18 crore on buying these apples. “We are going to start selling apples at our retail stores in Delhi. We are also in talks with Safal, an organised retail network of fruits and vegetables in the National Capital Region,” said sources.
This year, India’s apple production is projected to touch 26 lakh tons. More than 80 per cent of this is expected to be from J&K. Himachal Pradesh and Uttara-khand will account for the rest. The harvesting season in J&K is usually September to October, but this varies depending on the weather.
NAFED is the nodal agency that procures oilseeds, pulses, copra, onion and cotton to deliver the MSP declared by the Centre to farmers. However, there is no MSP for apples. Following the Centre’s decision to scrap J&K’s special status under Article 370, NAFED was asked to procure apples in J&K under the government’s market intervention scheme.
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