Srinagar, The Strawberry production in Kashmir valley has suffered 30 percent loss this year due to continuous rains this year, says growers.
The harvesting of the famous Kashmiri strawberry crop in village Gaasu Khimber in the outskirts of Srinagar is in full swing with growers plucking the fruit and simultaneously dispatching to the markets.
However, the fruit has suffered 30 percent loss in production this year compared to the last year due to the continuous rainy season in the month of April and May has deepened their worries, claims a grower Manzoor Ahmad.
He said that the production could have been bumper this year, but intermittent rains during the harvesting period caused damage to the crop to a great extent.
Growers including men women and children with baskets filled with the freshly harvested strawberries, one of the first horticulture crops of the season in Kashmir, were seen moving in the fields of Gaasu harvesting the fruit.
Gaasu Khimber is the home land of about one thousand farmers who are associated with the Strawberry trade. There are apple orchards as well Is the next source of their livelihood for them.
“The production this year is satisfactory despite weather vagaries but it could have been a bumper crop for the growers if continued rains could not have happened during the peak season” Manzoor said.
He said, since the Strawberry crop needs slight daily evening showers manually or naturally, but this time it was almost daily and most heavy showers throughout the month of April and May dampens the production.
Manzoor said “we usually pour the water in the fields to save the crop from the hot weather conditions but this year continuous rain fall withered the crop.
Strawberry farming was introduced in the valley due to its favorable climate conditions and Gaasu Khimber areas are being considered to be the most appropriate for the crop.
The harvesting of strawberries is also being done in Tangmarg in north Kashmir and some parts of South but the fruit at Gaasu Khimber areas in Srinagar is considered bigger in size, much juicy and good in taste according to the growers.
Gaasu village alone produces almost one thousand trays equal to 2000kg per day, Manzoor said and added that an eight tray bowl of 2 kg Strawberry costs for Rs 220 at the field.
“We are mostly sending the fruit directly to Mandi and some customers are also taking from us directly”, he said.
Ice Cream factory, Bakery shop owners and Juice factory people mostly purchase the fruit from us, Manzoor said.
He appealed to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to announce a scheme in favour of the Strawberry growers so that this crop could be developed and production increase in a big way in the future.