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Exotic fruit strawberry brings financial gains in this Udhampur village

Last Updated on July 3, 2021 at 7:11 pm

Most Farmers of Kooh Village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur District grow traditional wheat and maize crops as the area is by and large rainfed. Until 2020, no one ever thought of being innovative by growing something different like flowers, fruits, grasses, mushrooms and oil crops from their traditional agriculture. 

Innovation is the only way to win and it was proved right by Rashpal Singh, son of Tarlok Singh of Kooh Panchayat who owns several Kanals of plain agricultural land, was told about the scope of growing organic strawberries by one Vikas Sharma of his village, who works as a technician with J&K Horticulture Department. It was September 2020 when the whole game changed.

The Better India reported that for growing fruit crops the department provides Rs 13,000 subsidy per Kanal of agricultural land to the farmers. Thus, for getting subsidy Rashpal completed all the documents for the same.

Farmer Rashpal Singh. Image Source: The Better India

It was in November 2020 Rashpal’s project got sanctioned form the J&K government. Later in December, Horticulture Department officials helped him plant around 22,500 strawberry runners over his 10 Marlas of agricultural land.

Rashpal said that it was a risky project as crop was new for their fields and doubted its results but growing wheat crop on 10 Marlas of land until 2020 was paying him only Rs 1,000 and losing Rs 1,000 crop was not a big deal for him.

Rashpal for protecting his crop from pests used mulch worth Rs. 7000.

Vikas said that at the time of sowing of runners, farmyard manure is applied to the saplings. “Later, vermicompost is applied to the plants through the holes made up in the mulch. Mulch only protects the plants from unwanted weed and fruits from getting buried in the soil,” he said.

Rashpal said that his strawberry runners started bearing flowers and fruits in March and sold their fruit in Udhampur’s fruit and vegetable mandis.

The Horticulture, Planning and Marketing Department helped around five strawberry farmers of Udhampur town in purchasing the punnets from private dealers. Vijay Attri, the Horticulture and Marketing Inspector of the Udhampur-based Sabzi Mandi said, “We had been watching the strawberry farmers of Udhampur not happy with the rates they were getting from the sabzi mandi’s ‘Aadtis’. After we provided them with punnets, they sold their produce at the rate of Rs 25-30 in the sabzi mandis itself and for Rs 35-40 in other locations.”

Attri further said that their department is thinking of providing them with some plastic trays in the next season of their crop for storing bulk crops. Rashpal said that he earned Rs 40,000 from the crop grown over just 10 Marlas of land in a time period of three months. By seeing the success of his previous crop, the farmer of Kooh Panchayat is planning to grow organic strawberries over his around 2 Kanals of agricultural land by December 2021.

The author of this report is Bivek Mathur and it first appeared in The Better India