“Dealers Of Fake Fertilizers, Pesticides Must Be Booked Under PSA”
Fayaz Ahmed Malik
President, The Kashmir Fruit Growers And Dealers Association
Fruit Mandi, Sopore
Our Kashmiri apple is the bestseller in the country. We have the highest production. The growers of Kashmir can ensure round-the-year supply all over India of the best quality apples if we get the right government support.
The growers of imported apples get very strong technological support from their government. That is why they are able to maintain high quality from farm to transportation to sale. The growers of Kashmir do not get such strong technological support. That is why our crop suffers.
Sub-Standard Fertilizers, Fake Pesticides
We constantly face the problem of sub-standard fertilizers and spurious, fake pesticides. We keep telling the Horticulture Department about this, but the problem is not completely resolved. Because of these bad fertilizers and spurious pesticides, the crop is impacted and the farmers suffer.
The grower tends to his fruit trees for years. Fake inputs cause heavy losses to the trees.
PSA should be imposed on all those people who deceive farmers by giving them fake inputs. The government must not leave them.
Growers should be provided with subsidy of 50 per cent in the transport costs.
Controlled Atmosphere Stores
The aam grower is not benefitting from the CA stores facility. This is because the aam growers do not have the resources to keep their produce in CA stores. The owners of CA stores are big businessmen. They buy apples from the Kashmir mandis at low rates and keep these in the CA stores. Do you think an aam grower can afford to keep 30,000 peti in the CA store? About 90 per cent of the growers have only 500 to 6,000 peti of their own. Only about 10 per cent growers have 10,000 to 30,000 peti.
An aam grower does not get any subsidy. All subsidy is cornered by the top elite because they have the right connections in the right departments.
Challenges Like Hailstorms, Scab
Who faces challenges like the hailstorm? Who faces the problems like scab? Only the growers.
Request To Waive Off KCC Loans Up To Rs 3 Lakh
We have requested the government again and again that loans of Rs 3 lakh taken under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme should be waived off. The credit limit for KCC should be increased. We have been demanding this for many years.
The farmers are crushed under bank loans. Most farmers have land holdings of only 5 to 20 kanals. The government has no idea of the challenges faced by growers. That is why many in our next generation do not want to be associated with farming.
Crop Insurance Must Be Provided
We don’t have the facility of crop insurance. We suffer hail storms. We are at the mercy of the pesticide mafia. The market is flooded with duplicate and spurious pesticides. When the crop suffers, the grower suffers. This is why the growers are crushed under bank loans.
Inflated Project Cost For CA Stores
If someone sets up a Controlled Atmosphere store for Rs 30 crore, they show the cost of the total investment as Rs 60 crore. The subsidy of 30 crore is pocketed by the officials and the bigwigs.
The Grower Is Squeezed In From All Sides
The fruit industry is heavily suffering. The grower is also squeezed by the fertilizer mafia, the pesticides mafia. A major part of the revenue that we make goes into expenses. We are not able to save anything. The grower has to spend on manual labour, on packaging, on peti, on transport. By the time a single peti reaches the market, the grower has spent Rs 400 to Rs 500 on it.
Demand For High-Standard Storage Facility After Harvest
We are not able to get the right price for our produce because we do not get the high-standard facilities for storage after the fruit is harvested. The total production of Kashmir is about 24 lakh metric tonnes of apples. But the storage capacity is for only about 1 crore peti. Apples from Kashmir are supplied as far as Guwahati, Tripura, Kanyakumari. High-quality storage and transportation facility is essential so that our fruits remain crisp and fresh, and we get the right price for them.
Announcements regarding all these facilities have been made by the government, but the facilities are not provided. Growers are hit from all sides.