The Apple Farmers’ Federation of India (AFFI), J&K chapter, on Wednesday sought J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s intervention to restart the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for Kashmir’s apple industry.
The AFFI, in a letter written to the L-G, highlighted the MIS’ role in procuring inferior quality C-grade apples in the Valley since 2017, when the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) first launched the scheme.
“This year, the UT Administration has discontinued it for the current marketing season, causing much worry among growers. Every year there are visuals of this culled fruit being dumped on highways and rivers, as the procurement under MIS is anyway a small portion of the total produce and most growers have no other avenue to sell their C-grade apples,” Zahoor Ahmad Rather, president of the AFFI, said. Mr. Rather met L-G Sinha in Srinagar on Wednesday.
According to the AFFI, the impending impact of the withdrawal of the MIS can only be really understood after taking into account the condition of this year’s apple crop in J&K.
“Inclement weather since July has curtailed yields severely. First, there was unseasonal rainfall in July when the plants’ buds were completely blooming. Finding conducive conditions, the dormant scab disease spread across the fruit trees causing flowered buds to fall off. Then, a prolonged dry spell in the crucial months of August and September negatively affected the size and colour of the apples, reducing their competitive edge in the open market,” the AFFI said.
Yield cut by 50%
It claimed that the cumulative effect has been the reduction of total yield by 40 to 50%, that is a drop-in yield by one million metric tonnes or more. “What is even more concerning is that a larger portion of this year’s produce is turning out to be inferior C-grade culled fruit,” it said.
It pointed out that a similar situation has developed in Himachal Pradesh. “However, the State government through its procurement agency, the HPMC, has declared that culled fruit would be procured at Rs 12 per kilo,” the AFFI said.