The export of Kashmir’s famed apples is finally picking up pace, with growers from the volatile Anantnag area in south Kashmir topping the list of beneficiaries of the government-introduced Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) this year. About 4.46 lakh metric tonnes of apples, around 25% of the total produce, have already been transported outside the State despite the uncertain situation on the ground. All eyes are now on Diwali for a further hike in the sales.According to the figures of the State’s Horticulture Planning and Marketing Department, the MIS centre at Batengo in Anantnag has been able to export 70,178 boxes (worth ₹456.50 lakh) of apples, followed by the Sopore pick-up centre at 3,721 boxes (worth ₹22.14 lakh) and Srinagar at 2,510 boxes (worth ₹18.9 lakh) till October 9. However, the militancy-dominated district of Shopian witnessed the export of just 2,381 boxes worth ₹10.13 lakh. The MIS was introduced by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) in a rare move to help the farmers in distress due to the lockdown and communication blockade imposed in Kashmir on August 5 after the Centre’s move to revoke J&K’s special status. The scheme has been able to pick up apples worth ₹5 crore so far.“The MIS was introduced to provide an option to the growers. It was able to make the market competitive. There was no compulsion to sell the fruit under the MIS only. We are expecting more farmers to come forward after the revision of prices,” Horticulture Planning and Marketing Department director G.M. Dar told The Hindu.Price revisionUnder the MIS scheme, there was a price revision and hike of ₹8 to 10 per kg for all the varieties of apples. “The new prices were offered after making the Delhi mandi as a baseline. This attempt is also a move to provide the farmers an option to come up with quality grading against good prices,” said Mr. Dar.The government is also asking the farmers to prepare high-quality boxes for upcoming festival of Diwali. “The box will be offered at ₹70 per kg. All eyes are on Diwali. Over 75% apple crop is still in the Valley. The market is likely is see an upward trend. Exports are picking up,” said Mr. Dar.Nazeer Ahmad, a farmer in Shopian, said his crop was sold out in June itself when buyers from Delhi visited the Valley. “I decided to sell only to traditional buyers and not the MIS as it will keep the back-and-forth linkages, established over decades, intact,” he said.