Anantnag: Many fruit growers in Valley, who had sold their apple produce in 2019 to the government under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) scheme are yet to receive the payment.
The MIS was launched through the marketing and planning wing of the horticulture in collaboration with NAFED (National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation) in 2019 when Kashmir was witnessing complete lockdown following abrogation of Article 370 by centre on August 5, 2019.
The NAFED set up the mandis in all the biggest fruit producing areas like Sopore, Shopian and Anantnag. And to persuade the growers to sell their produce to the NAFED, the authorities announced that the payment to the growers will be cleared within 72 hours after selling of their fruit.
However, scores of growers continue to await the payment of their fruit.
“All the growers who sold their fruit at the government established mandi at Batengoo, Anantnag after December 7, 2019 are yet to get their hard earned money,” said a grower from Srigufwara, Abdul Rashid.
The growers complained that officials of the MPH department have failed to get their money released from the procuring agency.
“Initially we used to approach both MPH and NAFED officials for our money but NAFED officials later told us that they have cleared the accounts with horticulture officials. Since then we have been continuously making rounds of the concerned officials but they have no satisfactory answer,” said another grower Bashir Ahmad.
According to Ahmad, top officials of the department for nearly a year had been telling them that they are matching the details with NAFED but for last several months they have been telling them that the amount will now be released by the J&K government.
Dissatisfied by the response of the officials, the growers few months back had also registered a complaint with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, who had asked the Director MPH to resolve the issue and submit a detailed report.
Following Div Com’s intervention, a committee was constituted which recommended release of payment to the growers but surprisingly did not put blame on the officials, who were monitoring the sale of the apple even as the growers accuse them of committing fraud in the sale of apple fruit.
Most of the growers are now repenting their decision of selling their fruit through government agency.
“When people were reluctant to take their produce to these mandis keeping in view the situation, we took our fruit to Batengoo mandi during night hours hoping that government scheme will earn us more profits. But now we are repenting our decision,” said a grower Ghulam Rasool.
He said this wrong doing with growers has put a question mark on the credibility and functioning of the MPH.
“If government again plans to set up its mandis during the apple harvesting season in our area, I will be the first to discourage growers and share my experience with them,” he said.
Incharge Director MPH, Ram Vikas said that he is planning a meeting with officials in next few days in Srinagar regarding the issue.
“The issue has been there since 2019. A committee had also been constituted to probe the matter but nothing has actually happened so far. I have been receiving frequent complaints from growers since I took the charge and have now decided to call a meeting and check all the documents with regard to sale of the apple,” Vikas said.
He said since NAFED claims to have cleared all the payment, he will look into the issue from all angles.
“There may be involvement of some officials also. And if that is proven, I assure you that they will face action,” Vikas added.