Srinagar: Fearing huge damage to the apple crop, fruit growers have demanded reintroduction of the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) to save them from financial ruin.
More than 50 percent of apple has suffered damage due to scab disease and wind storms.
Normally, 25 percent of the annual apple produce is categorized as ‘C’ grade. This year, the quantity of `C’ grade apple is expected to double due to the disease and weather vagaries.
“Gusty winds, hail storms, and premature failure of blossom have reduced the quantity of `A’ grade apple. There is a possibility of an increase in the quantity of grade `C’ apple,” said Chairman Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union (KVFGCDU) Bashir Ahmad Basheer.
Farmers want the government to reintroduce Market Intervention Scheme and procure the grade ‘C’ apple at Rs 30 per kilogram.
“Like in the past, the government should re-introduce the scheme from August 15 with a uniform rate of Rs 30 per kilo for grade ‘C apple,” he said.
Bashir said apart from the natural calamity, the COVID-19 equally posed a challenge for the growers to maintain their spraying schedule.
“Curfew like restriction and lockdown imposed by the government since March 2020 restricted the growers to spray fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides. It will affect the livelihood of lakhs of the people who entirely depend on the apple industry,” he said.
Market Intervention Scheme was introduced by the government in 2006 after facing many roadblocks. Last year, the administration extended the scheme until March 2020.
President, North Kashmir Fruit Growers Association, Fayaz Ahmad Malik said a large scale scab attack on apples is being reported by the orchardists this year.
“Market Intervention Scheme is the last hope for the growers. Otherwise, farmers won’t get any returns. We hope the scheme will be re-introduced,” he said.
KVFGCDU has also written to Principal Secretary of Horticulture department Naveen Kumar Chaudhary and Divisional Commissioner PK Pole for re-introducing the scheme.
Director Horticulture Planning and Marketing Imam Din told The Kashmir Monitor that the Union Territory administration has taken up the matter with the Central government.
“We have sent a proposal and the government is seized of the matter. We are hoping that the scheme will be re-introducing this year,” he said.
Apple production in Kashmir has witnessed an increase over the last few decades. Last year the annual production increased to 19 lakh metric tonnes from 18 lakh metric tonnes.