Kashmiri farmers cheerful
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Kashmiri farmers cheerful with a bumper crop of strawberries
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Kashmiri farmers cheerful with a bumper crop of strawberries

Red, tangy and juicy strawberries are the flavour of the season in Kashmir, where a bumper crop has brought cheer to local farmers.

By Bilal Butt

Srinagar, May 8 : Red, tangy and juicy strawberries are the flavour of the season in Kashmir, where a bumper crop has brought cheer to local farmers.

Acres of strawberry fields are spread across lush green slopes, as more and more farmers have opted for a diversification in their crops.

Low temperatures and bright sunshine have convinced several farmers to opt for strawberry cultivation in the valley, in place of the regular paddy crop.

Motivated by the State's horticulture department, which is promoting the cultivation of the exotic fleshy fruit, the farmers are enjoying the profits gained from strawberry cultivation.

According to some farmers, one can easily earn at least 20,000 to 30,000 rupees (444 to 666 dollars) per canal (one hectare is equivalent to 20 canals).

"We have got more gains by cultivating strawberries. We are earning more profits. One box can earn us more than 50 rupees, which is very good," said Ghulam Mohammad, a farmer.

"This year the crop was good...as far as the taste is concerned, it's the best all over the country," said Ashiq Hussain, another farmer.

Farmers say they have received help from the State government.

They are involved in the entire procedure, ranging from the cultivation to the packaging and marketing stage. As many as eleven imported varieties of the fruit are being cultivated by them.

According to the State horticulture department, efforts are on to promote strawberry cultivation in the Jammu and Kashmir region in a big way.

"The demand for strawberries is good. It has even changed the taste of people here. Earlier, they used to wait for cherries eagerly this season. But the good flavour of strawberries has changed this. If it continues like this, I am sure strawberry will become popular in the entire country very soon," said G.S.Naqash, Director of Horticulture department.

The department previously undertook the planting of about 3 00,000 to 400,000 strawberry plants over six hectares of land.

At present, the produce collected is widely distributed in and around the northern states and is being exported within the country, including New Delhi.

The picturesque Himalayan state with its meadows, pine forests and snow-capped peaks, is well known for its fruit and dry fruit range.

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.


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