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Sopore Fruit Mandi deserted

Sopore Fruit Mandi deserted

Tag:GS3 || Economy|| Agriculture || Agricultural Production & Productivity

Why in news?

  • Kashmir’s apple traders stuck between government and militants beacuse of The clampdown in Kashmir, implemented before the abrogation of Article 370 over a month ago, continues to hurt the livelihoods of locals.
  • With the clampdown and the unrest that has been there for more than 50 days, the Kashmiri apple trade has been hit

Apple Production In Kashmir:

  • Jammu & Kashmir grow 19 lakh metric tonnes of apples each year.
  • This covers three-fourth of all apples produced in the country.
  • J&K’s total apple economy is estimated at Rs 8,000 crore (roughly 2% of its GDP).
  • Due to this, India is the world’s 5th largest apple producing country.
  • Apples are the lifeblood of Kashmir’s economy, involving 5 million people, around half the population of the state.

Sopore’s Fruit Mandi:

  • This is Asia’s 2nd largest apple market spread over 50 acres just outside town.
  • June to December are the busiest months at the Sopore fruit mandi.
  • During this time, the mandi normally employs around 5,000 people.
  • Doing the bulk of its annual business of up to Rs 2,500 crore.

  • The sellers reach the mandi by dawn, and after a day of transactions, truckloads of apples leave for destinations
  • Like New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and even Bangladesh and Nepal.

What Is The Problem?

  • Since the abrogation of Article 370, the mandi stalls are empty.
  • This could further create problems in Kashmir if these apples are not sold as people would loose their income.
  • The central government realized the importance of fruit in its attempts to restore “normalcy” in Kashmir.
  • Hence, the Central government announced on September 5 that NAFED (the National Agricultural Produce Marketing Federation) would procure apples in the Valley.
  • It is for the first time the central agency is procuring apples in Kashmir.
  • NAFED official said, “We have been told to buy whatever is offered to us
  • The indicative target is to procure 12 lakh metric
  • The total cost of operations is tentatively assessed at Rs 5,000 crore.

Militants Threat:

  • Before when the shutdown in Kashmir used to take place like- Amarnath land row agitation of 2008 and the Burhan Wani’s killing in 2016.
  • There was an unwritten understanding that the fruit would not be touched.
  • But for the 1st time, the apple has become a target in the Valley’s three-decade-old conflict.
  • This unwritten code was broken in the first week of September, nearly a month into the clampdown.
  • Militants are threatening apple growers against complying with government plans.
  • A day later, militants barged into the house of a prominent apple grower in Sopore, opened fire and left four wounded, And warned the family against going to the mandi.

Problems Of Apple Growers:

  • The apple growers in Kashmir get advance money from the big fruit dealers in Delhi and Kashmir. The growers have long-standing relationships with partners in different parts of the country,they borrow money from them.
  • Procurement in the future: Whether the government will procure apples next season from them or not. government cannot force them to sell to NAFED. They will store the produce in cold storage and sell when normalcy returns.
  • Impact on other sectors: it is not just the fruit industry that is reeling – two other key sectors of Kashmir’s economy, tourism, and handicrafts, have also been hit hard.
  • Lack of communication: the continuing lack of internet and mobile connections had paralyzed their work, including the ability to file taxes and make bank transactions.
  • Labour shortage: A labor shortage has made it difficult to operate.
  • With a few businessmen raided and more under detention, why would anyone from the rest of the country engage with them(Growers) and subject himself to a possible enquiry of his transaction and opening of his books?

Government Efforts:

  • The government is proposing to increase the price of apples under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for apple growers in Kashmir
  • On September 5, the Centre announced a Market Intervention Scheme to procure apples in the Valley through NAFED, so as to “ensure good remunerative prices.

Additional info:

Article 370:

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah has announced the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution, which provides a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

What are the provisions of Article 370?

  • Parliament needs the Jammu & Kashmir government’s approval for applying laws in the state — except in cases of defense, foreign affairs, finance, and communications.