Srinagar, May 17 : Strawberry growers in Kashmir look forward to a bumper crop this season due to timely rainfall, which has brought cheer to the farmers in the valley.
Red, tangy, juicy strawberries are the flavour of the season in Kashmir.
Acres of strawberry fields spread across the lush, green slopes as more and more farmers opt for diversification in crops.
Low temperatures and bright sunshine have attracted several farmers to opt for strawberry farming in the valley in place of regular paddy crop.
The official of horticulture department said that the strawberry production reaps rich dividends as compared to other crops.
"Growers are getting very good response. The cost benefit ratio has been highest in this crop. So, if we spend one rupee, we get minimum seven to eight rupees in return, which is not there in other crops," said Manzoor Ahmed, Chief Technical Officer, Horticulture.
Besides, Ahmed also informed that the production of seven to eight metric tonnes per hectare last year is also expected to increase considerably considering the sustainable weather conditions.
The strawberry growers as per official estimates are expected to reap strawberries worth 45,000 to 50,000 rupees per kanal brought cheer to the farmers.
Farmers have been involved in the entire procedure ranging from cultivation to its packaging and marketing and as many as eleven imported varieties of the fruit are being cultivated by them.
According to the growers due to snowfall and timely rains this year there has been increase in the strawberry production.
"In a complete season for one 'kanal' I can say a farmer, if he works hard, he can take about 30,000- 40,000 rupees (worth strawberries) from this honestly. From this village, per day, about 2-3000 kilograms is going to the market per day," said Shahid Mir, a strawberry grower.
The farmers have besides marketing urged the government to undertake processing of the fruit as well, which would further add value to their produce.
The strawberries are grown in the month of October, which then is harvested in early May.
At present, the strawberries from the valley are exported to neighbouring states in northern India including New Delhi.
The cool and dry climate of Kashmir has been suitable for exotic fruits like apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, mulberry, peaches, apricots, walnuts and almonds which also require moderate rainfall and bright sunshine. By Parvez