Downplaying media charges of insignificant procurement of Kashmiri apples by Nafed, one of the top officials of the agricultural co-operative rubbished them as reports without foundation in facts.
“It is the first time that institutional procurement of apples has been attempted in J&K and the development augurs well for the future of apple growers”, said the official who did not wish to be quoted.
The system has recently been put in place and it takes time for a system to get fully critical, he said adding that Nafed had been at work only for last 20 days in Jammu & Kashmir. He also said that the apple harvesting has begun only a fortnight ago. “We are hopeful of large-scale procurement in the days to come”, he stated.
It bears recall that one of the media outlets wrote that 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 1 per cent of the total production in Jammu and Kashmir.
Nafed official stressed that it is for the first time that an institutional procurement system has been erected for the apple growers and it is sure to lead to better times for the farmers in the years to come.
“Even when Nafed had no previous experience of procuring apple from anywhere in the country it has procured 4200 metric tonnes of apples in a short span of time”, he stated. The Nafed official pins hope on the ongoing festivals like Diwali and Chhath saying the challenges is beckoning us.
The official also narrated the woes of poor communication which hinders the smooth procurement process. It bears recall that soon after the abrogation of Art 370, mobile telephony and internet services were put on hold. “Things are getting normal but it takes time”, he added.
The official also said that the Nafed apples are being sent to many cities including Delhi, Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur etc. The low rates of Nafed apples are giving local traders a run for their money.
In Bihar, Biscomaun Chairman Sunil Kumar Singh has become a hero overnight by offering high quality apples at the fixed rate of Rs 75 a kg while the same is being sold at Rs 125-150 in the market. “He is repeating the story of urea; Biscomaun sold urea at a fixed price of Rs 265 a bag, driving the blackmarketeers away from the business”, said one of Sunil’s associates.
Nafed ventured into apple procurement at the prodding of the Central govt, which recently had gone the extra mile to revive the co-op behemoth. It was also for the first time that Nafed whose future was considered sealed till recently, distributed dividends to its members in the AGM held at the NCUI headquarters.
“If the Modi govt has been so benevolent to us how can we refuse their demand to begin apple procurement, especially in the wake of abrogation of Art 370 in J&K. Cooperatives move shoulder to shoulder with the govt when it comes to national issues. If the farmers of J&K are to be helped we would not hesitate in lending a helping hand”, the official said seeking anonymity once again.