Harvesting of the famous Kashmiri strawberry crop has begun in Kashmir with much satisfaction to the farmers about the production despite hot weather conditions and late rains.
In Kashmir, farmers carrying baskets filled with freshly harvested strawberries, one of the first horticultural crops of the season, were seen walking through the fields in the village of Gasu Khimbar. Gaasu Khimbar is the homeland of about a thousand farmers who are involved in the strawberry trade and also have apple orchards which are a source of their livelihood.
Strawberry production is widespread in the Ganderbal district along with the whole of Kashmir valley and these days people seem to be quite busy harvesting this crop. However, the people involved in this production are unhappy with the administration.
The fields around Srinagar are full of strawberries. Farmers are seen engaged in harvesting the fruits. Strawberry trader Farooq Ahmed said that this year the demand is good. The cost of a box of strawberries ranges from Rs 50 to Rs 140. Actually, the strawberry crop was also hit by the weather.
March had dry weather, but April saw torrential rains. This has affected the quality of strawberries. The major strawberry production centers in the valley are Khambar, Dhara, Tangmarg and Gusu.
Last year production increased. Covid-19 stopped strawberries from being shipped to other states and abroad. The lockdown had reduced business by 30 per cent. 2500 Ton Strawberry Production Rs. 400 per kg this year.
Strawberry farmer Nazir Ahmed said, “This time the market for strawberries is very good. A tray of strawberries sells for Rs 250-400, while a box sells for Rs 50-140. After two years, the farmers are getting its benefits.”
Nazir said that the flow of this fruit will increase in the coming weeks as the harvest is yet to start in some places of Kashmir, “the fruit will be harvested in the coming week in some areas”, he adds.
The farmers say that the weather conditions have affected the quality of the strawberry. “We witnessed dry weather in March and then heavy rain in April. The climatic pattern affected the quality of the strawberry. Had the weather been favourable, the demand would have been even higher,” said Nazir Ahmed.
Kashmir produces 2,000 to 2,500 metric tonnes of strawberries every year. The cool weather makes it suitable for strawberry cultivation. Harvesting started a month late in May this year due to incessant rains.