Budgam, Sep 10: Scores of apple farmers on Sunday gathered in central Kashmir’s Budgam district as part of the district conference of the Apple Farmers’ Federation of India (AFFI).
Since its inception, the AFFI has been laying strong emphasis on finding the ways to save the apple economy and cultivators of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Utrrakrhand. In its first national conference held in apple-rich Shopian town, the AFFI resolved to ensure that the apple farmers get maximum benefit of their produce and do not allow the corporates to marginalize the cultivators.
Continuing with its rallying cry “Save Apple, Save Kashmir”, the AFFI held a one-day conference in the town hall of Charar-e-Sharif with farmers from many outlying areas of the district participating in the conference.
Senior CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami while addressing the conference said that the apple growers should not be forced to sell their produce at increasingly throwaway prices.
“Our growers must get the fair prices of their labour,” Tarigami said.
He said that for the whole year they worked hard and then a sense of despair engulfed them after their harvest fetched them too little to meet their basic needs.
“And even if the first-rate apple fetches them a fair price , but how about the c-grade apples or windfall,” asked Tarigami.
He said that it is very unfortunate that the region which is the highest apple producer of apples in the country has no facilities for the procurement of such apples.
“The only juice plant run by the J&K Horticulture Producing and Marketing Corporation (JKPHMC) in Sopore has been closed for almost a decade ago”, said Tarigami.
He said that there was a pressing need for not only making the plant operational but also setting up more such facilities in each apple producing district.
Underscoring the need for improving the infrastructure for post-harvest management, Tarigami said that the government should establish more Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storages.
“We do not have adequate CA storages. These facilities should be established in each district and be accessible to marginal growers as well”, he said.
He also demanded enough subsidies on fertilizers and pesticides.
Tarigami appealed to the government to roll out the Market Intervention Scheme ( MIS) for the farmers.
Last month, a delegation of AFFI met with Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan and held a discussion about marketing the apples from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in the southern state, given its robust cooperative society network.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Ghulam Mohamamd Shah, president Kissan Tehreek, Kissan leaders Ghulam Qadir Hafroo and Manzoor Ahmad Shah.
President Fruit Association Charar-i- Sharief, Bashir Ahmad Baba and social activist Abdul Rashid Hanjoora greeted the conference.