Strawberry tastes sweet for Wayanad farmers

By TheHindu on 27 Feb 2017

Sweet Charlie and Winter Dawn are proving to be very lucrative for farmers in Wayanad. These are two varieties of strawberries suited to the climate in the district.

Strawberry cultivation is not new to Wayanad. The fruit has been cultivated by the Kerala Agricultural University at its Regional Agriculture Research Station (RARS), Ambalavayal, for the past few years on an experimental basis. It has also started to market value-added products from the fruit successfully.

However this year, thanks to the initiatives of the State Horticulture Mission, the cultivation of the crop has received a boost.

As many as 35 progressive farmers have started cultivating strawberries on a commercial basis on 50 hectares of land with financial assistance from the mission.

While many of the farmers follow the open precision method, a few among them cultivate the fruit in poly houses.

“We have cultivated 15,000 strawberry plants of Sweet Charlie and Winter Dawn in a poly house set up at Korome in Thondarnadu grama panchayat on a commercial basis,” E.R. Radhakrishnan, Director, Thrissur Jilla Souhrudha Vedi Farms and Resorts Private Ltd., a non-resident Indian firm based in Saudi Arabia, says.

“We got nearly 75 kg of strawberry in the first harvest from a few mature strawberry plants, and are expecting close to 8 tonnes in the final harvest,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said. Marketing the fruit was not an issue, he said, as the fruits could be sold in the local market at Rs.250 to Rs.310 a kg.

We have constituted a strawberry farmers’ forum to clear the doubts of new farmers on the crop and explore new markets, Alex C. Mathew, Deputy Director, State Horticulture Mission, said. The mission, he said, had tied up with RARS, Ambalavayal, to produce value-added products such as crushed strawberry, jam, and squash from the fruit.

The SHM planned to expand the area under strawberry cultivation to 150 hectares in the next fiscal, he said.

E.M. Manoj