JK sans insurance cover, transport policy for lucrative fruit industry
Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand Already Have Such Measures In Place
Victim Of Official Apathy
Srinagar, June 22: Despite having grown as a buoyant sector with annual turnover of Rs 3500 crore, Kashmir’s famed apple industry continues to be devoid of any insurance cover and full-fledged transport policy.
The fruit industry not only supports livelihood of more than three million people in the valley but is also a huge contributor to the state economy.
Ironically, the state government continues to turn deaf ear to the pressing demand of the growers for bringing apple crop under insurance cover.
According to the apple growers, the fruit industry suffers losses worth hundreds of crores annually due to hailstorm and other weather vagaries.
“Almost 20-30 percent crop is damaged due to weather vagaries every year thereby causing losses amounting between Rs 900 - 1000 crore to us,” said Fayaz Ahmad Malik, president of Sopore Fruit Growers Association.
“We have approached the authorities umpteenth times during past two decades to bring the apple crop under the ambit of insurance cover so that our losses are compensated in case of damages, but except for hollow promises, successive regimes have done nothing on the issue till date,” Malik added.
Curiously, less apple yielding states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have already brought the apple crop under insurance cover. Pertinently JK alone produces 65 percent of the apples in the country followed by Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. In Kashmir valley, around 22 lakh metric tones of apple are produced from 3.40 lakh hectares of orchard.
Going through the official handouts of the state government, the fruit growers’ assertion that successive regimes have deceived them on bringing apple crop under insurance cover stands vindicated.
Last year, on October 29, Minister of Horticulture Sham Lal Sharma had announced that the said state government is planning to introduce crop insurance scheme to protect orchardists against losses caused by weather vagaries and other reasons.
Even in January 2008, government came out with an official handout that fruit insurance scheme would be launched after two months.
“JK Bank in collaboration with leading insurance companies of the country would launch, first of its kind, fruit insurance scheme in the state from March 2008.Under the scheme, fruit produce of every fruit grower will be covered under insurance cover against risk of drought, hailstorm and market fluctuation,” the handout by the government then said.
On August 10 in 2005, the then Horticulture Minister Abdul Aziz Zargar said the modalities for the implementation of crop insurance scheme were being worked out with the Centre.
The fruit growers also complain that absence of transport policy for exporting apples to outside the state is resulting in huge losses to them.
“Every year during the peak season, there is shortage of trucks and we have no alternative than to pay freight as per the will and whims of truckers,” said Nazir Ahmad Mir a grower.
“It causes us Rs 100-150 crore loss every year. It is irony when state like Himachal Pradesh is talking of building Apple corridor exclusively for ferrying apples, we don’t have well structured transport policy which would help in minimizing the losses on account tariff hike,” Mir said.
He added that the state government in collaboration with neighboring states of Punjab, Delhi and Haryana can devise transport policy to avoid frequent shortage of trucks.
When contacted, Director Horticulture Ghulam Hassan Shah said they have raised the matter of insuring apple crop with insurance companies of the country.
“We have discussed number of options with them (insurance companies) so that fruit growers are benefited,” he said.
Shah, however, said transportation of fruit is being looked after by separate department.
“It is subject of Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Department,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 22 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 22 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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