When Jammu and Kashmir administration signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) in January 2020, it was expected to promote the state’s horticulture produce and take it to the global market. A year later, the NAFED has done little to help the apple farmers. On the contrary, it has shaken up already smooth and profitably functioning decades-old setup of the Rs 9000 crore worth horticulture industry. The entry of the duty-free Iranian apples through Afghanistan route has only further detracted from the profitability of the apple.
Kashmir’s apple growers who produce nearly 20 lakh metric tons of apples every year, more than two-third of India’s total apple production, have been expressing concerns about the issues that threaten the basic foundation of the apple industry in the coming years.
UPSETTING THE APPLE CART
When the NAFED was brought to Kashmir, it was expected to cover 5,500 hectares at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore in the next five years with a major focus on apple, walnut, cherry, pear and other significant horticulture produce. The Federation had to also set up 20 Farmer-Producer Organizations, one in each district in addition to three cold storage clusters, one each in the north and south Kashmir and one at Kathua, Jammu at a cost of Rs 500 crore.
Prior to the signing of the MoU, the Union Cabinet had given its nod to NAFED to buy 12 lakh tonnes of apples in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020. In 2019, the agency had managed to procure only about one per cent of its target of 13 lakh tonnes accounting for 15,770 tonnes of fruit valued at Rs 70 crore, according to the official data of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In 2020, the Centre had allowed NAFED to use a government guarantee of Rs 2,500 crore and the losses incurred, if any, would be shared by the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a 50:50 basis. Procurement had to be done directly from apple growers and the payment was to be made into their bank accounts via direct benefit transfers.
However, the local growers have suspicions about the NAFED. They think that the agency has been brought in to disrupt the existing local set-up, which for decades has been yielding profits for the rural Kashmir populace employed in the trade.
Former Finance Minister and noted economist Haseeb Drabu said he believes it is “problematic” if the NAFED becomes the sole marketing agency for Kashmir apple.
“In the recent union budget, the Finance Minister has announced monetization of almost all Public Sector Undertakings (PSU). But is it then that PSUs like NAFED are being brought in through backdoor into Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, asking why the NAFED is being made a key player in Kashmir’s crucial apple industry.
Questioning the marketing skills of PSUs, Drabu said that the government should provide at least one example of a semi-government company being successful at this job. He said the apple the industry of the Valley predates partition and has a network of its own which has been built for over 100 years.
“These networks are very important not just for economic purposes but for the larger social purpose also. If these are disturbed by coming in of the NAFED then that is going to be critical,” Drabu said, adding that the new networks would take “ages” to be built.
Drabu said he doesn’t have a problem if the NAFED builds infrastructure in the apple sector but the success story of apple in Kashmir valley is because the government never intervened.
“If there would have been government intervention in the apple industry, it would have never succeeded. It has always been a private enterprise,” he said adding the horticulture is the prime driver of the Kashmir economy. “More than seven lakh families are dependent on it which is 35 lakh people if the average size of the family is taken as five people. That is 1/3rd of the population of Jammu and Kashmir and nearly 50 per cent population of the Valley. That is in terms of just the share and the livelihood impact of it”.
In the larger context, he said, Jammu and Kashmir on its own is the 6th largest producer of apples in the world and by virtue of that India is the 5th largest producer in the world.
“India can become 2nd largest apple producer in the world in the next three to four years if everything is done right. This is how crucial Kashmir valley’s apple industry is,” Drabu said.
President Cold Storage Association Majid Aslam Wafai said that they don’t see the building of cold storage by the NAFED as a “threat” to the existing infrastructure in Kashmir.
“Let them come and set up storage facilities here. We won’t be sitting ducks. Our units are in the organized sector and we have full confidence in ourselves to fight any competition,” Wafai said, adding that their deliberations with the top-level officials of NAFED had put their fears to rest. “The NAFED has just a complementary role.”
DANGLING IMPORT SWORD
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
‘THE FEAR, THREAT AND SHRINKING SPACE FOR DISSENT IS A KEY FACTOR THAT MARKS WINS AND LOSSES IN KASHMIR'
Rajani Patil is a third-generation politician. Her grandfather, Ganesh Pingle, a member of the Gadar Movement, was hanged in Lahore by the British in 1915. Her mother, Shantabai Pingle married her father, Baram Patil while they were imprisoned by the British. The former Congress MP is now in-charge General Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir. Ms Patil to Tarushi Aswani about recent developments and challenges that shape party politics and mainstream politics in a post 370 Jammu and Kashmir.
SHOULD THERE BE A NEW FEDERAL COMPACT BETWEEN THE CENTRE AND STATES?
In the book, Beyond Covid’s Shadow: Mapping India’s Economic Resurgence, Haseeb A Drabu makes a case and suggests an alternative. Here is an abridged version of a chapter
FOR PEACEFUL SUMMER
Like Kashmir weather and politics, Indo-Pak relations are also unpredictable writes Zahoor Malik
Free-roaming dogs in Kashmir bite thousands every year. Though the authorities assert that they have been sterilising the dogs and managing the waste food, the availability of lot of free food is a key factor in the dog population surge, reports Syed Samreen
One of Srinagar’s oldest craftsmen, Ghulam Nabi Dar’s designs on the wood remain unmatched for their intricacy and detail, reports Khalid Bashir Gura
A RARE SCHOOL
Curriculum, poor infrastructure and unimpressive service in public schools are pushing parents to enrol their wards in the private sector schools. This is despite the fact that Jammu and Kashmir invests more than Rs 12000 crore in the education sector and has the best human resource. Now teachers of a south Kashmir government school are investing their blood and sweat to undo the trend by reimagining their school, Saifullah Bashir and Shakir Ashraf reports
SPENDING Rs 1 LAKH CR
In the second consecutive budget that Nirmala Sitharaman presented to the Lok Sabha, the major expenditures continue to remain the same, reports Tasavur Mushtaq
In the twenty-first century when faster transportation is abundant, a section of the population still prefer the slow motion, eco-friendly Tanga and those running them are not unhappy at all, reports Umar Khurshid
SMART AND SKILLED
The Jammu and Kashmir government has constituted Technical Committee to vet the Detailed Project Reports (DPR) for Jammu and Srinagar Smart City projects on fast track basis along with laying emphasis on employment-oriented skill development.
PLAYING WITH ICE
Shakir Ashraf meets the Kashmir ice skater who represented India in Europe
Big Shift for Marketers
We’ve Seen the Future and There Are No Cookies
YOU: INTERFACE DEEPER INTEGRATION IS COMING, JUST FOR YOU
According to a new study from WhistleOut, the average consumer spends an eye-watering nine years of their lives looking at their smartphones, and that’s without mentioning the use of computers, televisions, and other devices that increasingly control our lives.
EVERYTHING WE KNOW ABOUT FOR ALL MANKIND SEASON 2 ON APPLE+
Ever imagined what would have happened had the Cold War space race never ended? What would have happened if the Soviets had been the first power to have a successful landing on the Moon? Well, you needn’t trouble yourselves anymore, as Apple TV+’s For All Mankind tells you exactly that. The show, created by Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, was a hit for Apple when its first season debuted in November 2019. Today, we are discussing the show’s ongoing second season and the information we know about the announced third season.
WINDOWS 10 ON M1 MACS: WHAT YOU CAN DO (VIRTUALIZATION, SORTA) AND CAN'T (BOOT CAMP)
VIRTUALIZATION IS KEY, BUT THE LACK OF A CONSUMER VERSION OF MICROSOFT’S M1 -COMPATIBLE OS KEEPS THE SITUATION IN DOUBT.
Solutions to your most vexing Mac problems.
AIRPODS MAX: OPULENT AUDIO THAT SHOULDN'T COST SO MUCH
APPLE’S HIGH-END HEADPHONES LOOK, SOUND, AND FEEL GREAT, BUT THE PRICE ISN’T RIGHT.
What we’re raving about this month
Aukey EP-N5: Entry-level ANC that gets it (mostly) right
Good sound and decent active noise canceling for a wallet-friendly price.
STEVEN SPIELBERG'S AMAZING STORIES – WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH APPLE TV+'S NEW SHOW!
Back in 1985, famed director and Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg had his sciencefiction anthology, Amazing Stories, air on NBC from 1985 to 1987.
LITTLE THINGS: THE KEY PILLAR IN APPLE DESIGN & INNOVATION
Apple’s design language has changed a great deal in recent years, away from the silvers and rounded edges towards a modern, industrialinspired design, as sported by the iPad Pro and iPhone 12.