Koraput: The hilly terrains of southern and south-western Odisha districts have been hospitable for strawberry farming to flourish. Over the last few years, Koraput and Nuapada districts, located at an elevation of around 3,000 feet above sea level, with a cool climate have been very suitable for growing strawberry on a commercial scale. A case in point is strawberry cultivation in Kotia under Pottangi block of Koraput district. With the active support of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, and the district administration, strawberry farming is being carried out on 20 acres of land in this village.
Principal Secretary, Department of F&AE, Dr Arabinda Kumar Padhee, during a recent visit to Kotia met and interacted with the strawberry farmers. Dr Padhee encouraged them to move forward in a dedicated manner, and assured all possible assistance from the Department.
The farmers, in a short period of time, have acquired self-sufficiency, which is encouraging. The best thing about strawberry, is that it is self-sustainable, and the farmers do not have to always worry about saplings. Strawberry farming once successful is far more profitable than cultivation of other fruits.
“The ITDA and Department of Agriculture officials provided us with the training to cultivate strawberries. We are now thorough with strawberry farming and can help other farmer from our village. The chain will continue in the coming years, hopefully,” a local strawberry farmer said.
In the pilot phase, farming was done on 5 acres land for which 55,000 strawberry saplings were brought from Pune. As many as 3 self help groups, and 45 farmer families were trained for the farming. The fruits of these efforts were visible within 50 days.
After the fruits ripened, these were plucked and packged hygienically. The farmers got Rs 100 per small packets and the total business in the first year was around Rs 4.60 lakh, which encouraged them and others to take up the activity, said Kasi Prasad Nayak, Special Development Council, District Programme Coordinator.
In the last season, the target was to cultivate strawberry on 50 acres land in Doliamba, Janiguda, Galigadur and Fatusineri villages in Koraput district. But farming was possible on around 20 acres land where 6 lakh saplings were planted. Bio-fertlisers are used for farming which is environment-friendly, said Nayak.
“Strawberry farming has also been instrumental in cutting down migration to other states for work,” the local farmers said.