Srinagar: Khalid Ahmad, a truck driver from Punjab truck is loaded with apples from Shopian in South Kashmir. He is one of the hundreds of truck drivers stranded in Kashmir for a couple of days after the killing of a non-local apple trader and a driver in Shopian last week. “I have been coming to Kashmir for a decade now, and we have never felt unsafe here. I hope the situation improves, and apple traders and drivers are not targeted”, Mohammad Khalid said.

The sense of fear after the killings hasn’t dampened the apple industry of Kashmir. Six lakh metric tons of apple have been sent outside Kashmir so far this season despite shutdown and a communication blackout after the revocation of Article 370 on August 5.

Earlier the government launched a market intensive scheme to buy apples directly from the apple farmers through a central agency NAFED in collaboration with the J&K department of horticulture marketing and planning.
The initial rates earmarked for different varieties of apples have now been revised to give better incentives to the apple farmers of Kashmir.

Under revised rates, the government has offered Rs 70 for an extra gift pack of apples. Rs 59 for grade A, Rs 43 for grade B and Rs 23 for grade C of apples.

The government has also added two more procurement centres in Kulgam and Anantnag for collection of apples under the market intensive scheme bringing the total number of Apple procurement centres to six.

More than 3,000 apple farmers in Kashmir have registered themselves with the Market Intensive scheme so far. The scheme will remain in force till December 15 and could be extended if the response is significant.

Horticulture in general and apple cultivation form the backbone of Kashmir’s economy.
Apple is cultivated on more than 37 lakh hectares of land across Kashmir. The region produces 20 lakh metric tons of apple each year.
Apple industry in Kashmir is worth Rs 8,000 crore annually giving livelihood to 33 lakh people. Around seven lakh farmers are engaged in apple cultivation.

Also Read: https://newsmeter.in/tension-grips-south-kashmir-as-militants-kill-non-local-labourer-apple-trader-in-back-to-back-attacks/

Zaffar Iqbal

Zaffar Iqbal is a senior journalist from Jammu and Kashmir. In a career spanning 20 years, he has reported on a wide range of issues ranging from conflict, armed encounters, environment, crime, politics culture and human rights. Zafar has worked as bureau chief (J&K)/ North India for NDTV- (New Delhi Television and Tiranga TV)- leading teams of journalists for producing quality TV news and online video content.

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