Young farmers claim they are first strawberry growers in district
Mysuru/Mysore: Farming often seems like a life of endless suffering. Loans, untimely rains, unfair prices, lack of market, labour issues… and the list goes on. Perhaps, that is why many parents discourage their children from pursuing agriculture. But two youngsters have defied their parents and proved that farming can be quite a rewarding profession.
Meet Rajashekar and Naveen Kumar, who have successfully grown strawberries in their farm in H.D. Kote taluk, Mysuru district. In doing so, they have reportedly become the district’s first strawberry growers.
The duo planted over 1,800 strawberry saplings in a half-acre patch at their 7-acre farm at Hosaholalu village just as a challenge and have become successful as they reaped their first yield.
Rajashekar, after obtaining degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Naveen Kumar after his graduation, were not attracted by the city life, instead they were lured by their farm life. Both their families are agriculturists and grow Jowar/Sorghum (Jola) in their 7-acre plot of land, but these youngsters wanted to try something new in agriculture and as luck would have it, the idea came from Rajashekar’s sister Rakshita.
Rakshita, who is pursuing B.Sc. Forestry course in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, suggested them to try growing strawberries and she even brought them a box full of crowns (short thickened stem of mother plant) of the berry. She advised them to propagate them with tissue culture as strawberries are best propagated by crown division.
Rajashekar and Naveen finally planted around 1,800 saplings that they developed from mother plant in the month of September last year. To their surprise, the plants started to flower and bear fruits in two months. Now, they are selling them to nearby resorts and curious visitors to their farm.
Each kilogram of strawberry costs Rs. 1,200 per kg and sometimes they sell it for up to Rs. 1,800. As strawberry is a winter crop, they are expecting their crop to survive till February-March with monthly yield of 70 to 80 kg — about 30 fruits make up a kilogram.
Apart from selling the fresh fruit, the duo use the not-so robust fruit to make strawberry jam. “Our strawberries are organically cultivated and their shelf life is only three days. Unlike mall-strawberries which use wax coating and preservatives so as to safeguard the fruits during transport after procuring them from Northern States of India, we sell straight from our farm so you better eat it within 3 days,” says Rajashekar.
Strawberry grows well under temperate and to some extent in sub-tropical climate and hence are cultivated in Himachal Pradesh and hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh.
Rajashekar and Naveen have managed to grow them with scientific inputs in H.D. Kote region. Naveen says they are the first strawberry farmers in the district and that since strawberries are in demand both as a health food and in the food industry, more farmers should try and cultivate it as a new cash crop. Rajashekar says that the soil and water in the area are favourable to any crop, but an honest attempt is necessary.
Strawberries at RMC Yard
A carton of strawberries at RMC Yard in Mysuru costs about Rs. 200 to Rs. 250. Each carton would contain 8 small boxes with10 to 15 fruits in each box. On an average, the street vendors who buy the fruits at RMC sell each box of strawberry for Rs. 50 to Rs. 70 in the retail market. It is learnt that the wholesale dealers buy the fruit from Pune, which is then transported to Bengaluru and Mysuru.