Srinagar, Oct 19 (IANS) Despite the shutdown and killing of a non-local apple trader and a driver, apple farmers in Kashmir have managed to send six lakh metric tons of apples outside Kashmir.
After halting for two days at Shopian, Mohammad Waris, a truck driver from Rajasthan has begun to load apples in his truck.
“We come to Kashmir to earn our livelihood for years and we will continue to do that,” Mohammad Waris said.
Kashmir produces 20 lakh metric tons of apples every year. The fruit is cultivated on more than 37 lakh hectares of land across Kashmir.
Kashmir accounts for 75 per cent of the total apple production in India.
The fruit earns Kashmir Rs 8,000 crore annually and provides livelihood to 33 lakh people including seven lakh farmers.
The government had offered to buy the crop from the farmers due to the lockdown and shutdown after the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS).
The government has made J&K Department of Horticulture Marketing and Planning and NAFED as the nodal agency to buy apples from farmers in Kashmir.
The government has also revised the rates for procuring apples. Under MIS the government has now offered Rs 70 for extra gift pack of apples while Rs 59 for grade A, Rs 43 for grade B and Rs 23 for grade C variety of apple. Other varieties like American and Maharaji have been offered at lesser prices.
Two more procurement centres have now been opened by the government, one each in Kulgam and Anantnag. The total number of procurement centres is six now.
The MIS will continue till December 15. According to sources, the scheme can be extended if there is a better response.
To date, more than 3,000 farmers have registered with the MIS.