National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) this year is going to buy Kashmiri cherry, directly from growers, the very first time it is doing so.Officials from NAFED going to procure the Kashmiri cherry for the first time now that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed by the UT government with the agency.They said that NAFED will not only buy cherries from local mandis but they have also formed a farmer producer organisation (FPO) at the tehsil level in every district where growers can bring the produce without middlemen and sell it to NAFED as per quality of the fruit.

Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, Managing Director of NAFED, told that the fruit will be airlifted to far stations and to nearer stations via train and road.He said that they will market a brand of Kashmiri cherry and it will be exported as well. “Our motive is to send the cherry to every part of India after directly buying it from growers,” he said, adding that this process will help the growers get satisfactory rates compared to what they sell it for to local traders and middlemen.He added that the agency will also give subsidy on the transportation of the fruit. “We will also e-auction the cherry at some of the major markets,” he said.

Officials from NAFED also said that they already have started a training programme where the farmers are being educated for best growing practices and modern packing techniques so that the entire supply chain can be revamped.Before procuring cherry, NAFED started buying Kashmiri apple in 2019 after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was read down by the Government of India.

Procurement of cherry by NAFED at farmers’ level is being widely appreciated by the growers as the sector last year sustained losses due to the prolonged Covid-19 lockdown in India where most of the Kashmiri produce is consumed.Kashmir on average grows around 15,000 metric tonnes of cherry every year and the fruit is mostly grown in Ganderbal and Srinagar in central Kashmir and in Shopian in south Kashmir.

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