For the first time in two years the farmers in Kashmir are more than happy as the demand for strawberries have soared.
After the harsh winters, Strawberry is the season’s first crop in Kashmir. This year the production is expected to cross 2,500 metric tonnes. Past two years have been real tough for the farmers and they suffered huge losses as the produce could not be shipped due to pandemic and lockdown.
Shabir Ahmad, a strawberry farmer says, “This time, the market is very good for strawberries. A tray of strawberries is sold at Rs 250-400, while a box sells at Rs 50-140. It is after two years that the farmers are reaping benefits".
Due to low shelf-life, strawberries are being locally consumed in the valley. The crop is produced in selected areas including Khimber, Dhara, Tangmarg, and Gussu. Shabir says that the flow of this fruit will increase in the coming weeks as harvest in certain places of Kashmir is yet to begin, “some areas will harvest this fruit in the coming week", he adds.
Farmers claim that the weather conditions have impacted the quality of the strawberry. “We witnessed dry weather in March and later heavy rains in April. The weather pattern affected the quality of the strawberry. Had the weather been favorable, the demand would have been even more,” said Manzoor Ahmad , a farmer and a dealer of strawberries from Harwan.
Strawberry growers are demandin shipping facilities for the fruit to other states. “We don’t understand why strawberry doesn’t reach other states. Department of horticulture should take measures to ship out produce to other places,” Manzoor says.
Strawberry is the first fruit that grows after six months of harsh winters in Kashmir and is supplied to various parts of north India including Delhi.