Shimla, February 3
The nearly 100 per cent slashing of the budgetary allocation for the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) in the Union Budget has left apple growers worried. The MIS is vital for apple growers as government enterprises HPMC and Himfed procure almost the entire stock of “C” grade apple from the growers under this scheme.
Burden on Himachal
Not just apple, the scheme is applicable to citrus fruits as well. The cut in the budgetary allocation is going to put a lot of burden on the state. — Jagat Singh Negi, Horticulture Minister
Withdraw reduction: Sanjay Chauhan, SKM Co-Convener
The Centre should withdraw the deduction made in the scheme’s allocation. If this is not done, apple growers’ organisations will launch an agitation. — Sanjay Chauhan, SKM Co-Convener
“The Centre should withdraw the deduction made in the scheme’s budgetary allocation. If this is not done, apple growers’ organisations will launch an agitation,” said Sanjay Chauhan, co-convener of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch, a group of over 27 bodies of apple growers. The manch had launched a big agitation against the previous government last year over the rising input costs.
The state government is also concerned over the Centre’s decision to reduce the MIS budget from the last year’s Rs 1,500 crore to only Rs 1 lakh for the next financial year as the expenditure is shared on 50:50 basis between the state and the Centre.
“Not just apple, the scheme is applicable to citrus fruits as well. The cut in the budgetary allocation is going to put a lot of burden on the state,” said Horticulture Minister Jagat Singh Negi.
The state reportedly paid around Rs 90 crore to the fruit growers under the scheme in 2021-22. According to a Himfed official, the MIS payment for 2022-23 could be around Rs 125 crore.
“The MIS was introduced to ensure a reasonable price for those fruits and vegetables that are outside the ambit of MSP (minimum support price). Not making any budgetary allocation under the scheme is a treachery against the apple growers of Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand,” said Chauhan.
The growers feel the MIS payment would become much more erratic in the wake of the Centre’s decision. “Already, growers get their MIS payments after 2-3 years. With the entire burden falling on the state, the payments can become even more erratic,” said Harish Chauhan, president of the Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Growers Association.
Lokinder Bisht, president of the Progressive Growers Association, feels the continuation of the scheme is of utmost importance for apple economy. “Besides procuring ‘C’ grade apple, the scheme stabilises the apple prize in the market. In the absence of the scheme, the ‘C’ grade apple will come into mandis and the prize of even ‘A’ and ‘B’ grade apple will crash,” he said.
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