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The Centre’s initiative to secure apples at Kashmir through cooperative Nafed has”failed miserably” as only 0.01 per cent (1.36 lakh boxes) of 11 crore boxes was purchased directly from growers up to now, a farmers body claimed on Saturday.

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Returning in the field visit to this valley, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) required that the Centre should provide reimbursement to apple and other horticulture crops growers in Kashmir who have incurred losses because of unseasonal heavy snowfall in addition to from lack of transportation and cold storage help because of the political chaos in the newly formed union territory. The Centre made a decision to secure apples in the area in the aftermath of terrorists threatening some apple growers to not sell their produce at the marketplace after abrogation of the special status awarded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcation of the country into two Union Territories. “The government authorised Nafed to carry-out procurement but that this operation failed miserably. Deficiency of expertise and infrastructure meant that NAFED has secured 0.01 percent of their estimated yield (1.36 lakh boxes out of over 11 crore boxes),” the AIKSCC explained in a statement. Farmers have complained the Nafed procurement had effect because it has sold apple at the selling market at prices that brought down the wholesale flea prices in the marketplace, it mentioned. Kashmir produces 75 per cent of the nation’s total apple production and the horticulture industry of Kashmir has a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore. “If 70 per cent reduction (as is being maintained by the growers and agents of trade and industry) is true, then this may devastate the livelihood of people of Kashmir for years to come,” the farmers’ body stated. Highlighting the plight of farmers, even the AIKSCC said its delegation that visited the valley witnessed extensive damage to the apple harvest in the valley as a result of untimely and heavy snowfall, it said and added growers were unable to go out and harvest the harvest and shop it due to heavy snow fall. The impact on saffron crop was much worse and yields are expected to stay lower this year. “Astonishingly, the Kashmir administration hasn’t announced it a calamity, nor has it initiated any field level survey so far to estimate the magnitude of damages,” it said noting that regular supply of power, street connectivity and supply of essential items in villages also are major issues of concern. Besides heavy snowfall, the farmers human anatomy said plants like pear, cherry and grapes which were chosen in August were stranded due to complete shutdown in the valley and could not be marketed, resulting in near complete loss for the farmers.

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Apple harvesting was to begin in September but has been delayed for choosing as farmers could not venture out. Once harvesting started, non-availability of telephones for non-access and first 60 days to net even meant that the communicating between traders, transporters and apple manufacturers was snapped, causing a disturbance in the series, it stated. Further, apples could not be brought by farmers to the markets farmers were forced to deliver their produce to the Highways and since trucks were not permitted to visit the villages. This caused inconvenience, distress and added expenses, it added.

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