700 truckloads of apple leave J&K as trading eases in Valley
More than 700 truckloads of apple have been transported from Jammu and Kashmir to wholesale markets in North India over the past two days with normal trading activities resuming in the Valley, Army officers said on Thursday.
Inter-state trading activities are gradually resuming in Jammu and Kashmir with curbs being lifted in a phased manner following over a month of restrictions since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
With apple picking season in the Valley now in full flow, security agencies have gradually started to remove restrictions on inter-state trading of the fruit.
"Nearly 300 trucks loaded with apples had left from Shopian district for the plains beyond Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. On Thursday, over 400 trucks left from the Sopore market and have crossed the border of Jammu and Kashmir and are now bound for other states," said an Army officer.
The officers said that hundreds of trucks will be lined up for transporting apples outside the Valley over the next few days.
Apple farming, which is the main contributor to the economy of Jammu and Kashmir, garners a revenue of more than Rs 1,000 crore per year for the state. Harvesting of apples begins towards the end of August following which large consignments of the fruit are transported to other states in the country.
However, this year, apple trading was hit in the month of August because of restrictions on transportation and communication, which were imposed across the Valley following the government's decision to withdraw special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) too has come to the rescue of apple growers in the Valley. The state-owned co-operative agricultural marketing agency has promised to purchase all grades of apples from Jammu and Kashmir at an 'impressive' price.
Sources said that NAFED has planned to purchase apples directly from the doorsteps of the farmers in the Valley in order to help avoid security issues that may crop up during inter-state transportation of the fruit using roads.
"Exciting news for apple growers. The NAFED is set to buy all three grades at an impressive price. Every single fruit will bring in greater value, enhanced income at no transportation hassles," Srinagar District Magistrate and Development Commissioner Shahid Choudhary had tweeted on Wednesday.
Security agencies said that normalcy is gradually returning to the Valley with communication networks also being opened.
"The only major security hassle that remains to be solved is about sending children back to the schools in full numbers," an Army officer said.IANS