Strawberry farmers in Kashmir expect bumper production

Srinagar, May 11 : Timely rain and favourable weather has proved a boon for the strawberry farmers in Kashmir and they expect bumper production.

The relatively new concept of strawberry farming has become quite popular among traditional paddy farmers in the Kashmir valley since they are able to get better returns as compared to rice.

The farmers in Srinagar are cultivating as many as eleven imported varieties of the fruit.

Strawberry is the first fruit in Kashmir valley that grows after the six months of harsh winter.

Mohammad Iqbal, a strawberry grower said on Friday that he expected good yield of strawberry .

"I thank god for the favourable climate, as the crop does not require too much of sun or excess of rain. It rained properly this time. I am in strawberry cultivation for the past three years and this year I expect bumper production of the crop," said Iqbal.

Strawberries from the Kashmir Valley are supplied to states in north India, including New Delhi.

The state horticulture department is providing assistance to farmers to ensure better production of strawberries.

Director of horticulture department, Sonam Norbu suggested that the farmers should engage in the processing of strawberry so that they can earn good money.

"We are witnessing an increase in strawberry production due to favourable weather this season. Last year the production was 1200 metric tones but this year it would be more than that. For the farmers benefit, I would like to suggest that if they are getting less money, then they should engage in its processing, they can make jams and drinks from the crop, which can be sold in the sweet shops as well," said Norbu.

The roots of strawberry plants spread out close to the surface. The soil requires moisture and saplings should be kept free from weeds and other pests.

The horticulture department has urged the farmers to be actively involved in the entire process ranging from cultivation to its packaging and marketing.

The cool and dry climate of Kashmir is suitable for fruits like strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, mulberries, peaches, apricots, walnuts and almonds, which require moderate rainfall and bright sunshine.

--ANI (Posted on 11-05-2013)

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