Who would have thought a field full of strawberries would flourish in the arid climate of Rajasthan? Well, one avant-garde farmer from Chittorgarh district has made it a reality!
A forward-thinking Jagdish Prajapat of Bangreda Mamadev Gram Panchayat under Nimbahera block has proven that strawberry cultivation can be a booming business in this northwestern side of India.
Cultivating strawberries in his six bighas (a traditional unit of measurement of the area of a land with no standard size) farm, Jagdish expresses that south Rajasthan has tremendous potential for the fruit even though it doesn’t have many takers currently in Rajasthan, as compared to other states that cater to the existing demand.
Jagdish first attempted to plant strawberries on one bigha land and observed that the local climatic conditions, soil and water availability proved favourable. He then moved on to sowing the fruit on his current six bigha land.
Today, Jagdish’s labour of love has helped his cultivated strawberries reach big cities like Delhi and Ahmedabad, from his tiny village in Bangreda Mamadev.
Speaking to the Times of India, he expressed his initial journey when he brought plants from Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh.
“However, this year I have managed to create strawberry plants in my own field,” he beams.
While one may look at the cost of one bigha of land for strawberries as high as Rs 3 lakh, it is important to note that it includes the cost of compost, fertilizer and manual labour.
The yield per bigha is estimated to be about 50 quintals, shares Jagdish. Packing the strawberries in 2 kg packs, sold at an average cost of Rs 200 per box, he dispatches it to various places using buses as his main mode of transport.
He attributes his success to the training and technical support from the horticulture department of the state government.
It helped him understand and master techniques like drip irrigation (micro-irrigation that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants), plastic mulching sheet bed for moisture protection and fertigation (injection of fertilizers, soil amendments, and other water-soluble products into an irrigation system).
These helped him efficiently monitor and manage the growth and shape of plants.
While Jagdish tried to plant ample varieties of strawberries like Raniya, Pamaroj, Camilla, Nebila, Sweet Charlie, Chandler, Aofa, it was only the winter variety that suited the climate, land & water conditions. Cultivating a batch of over 12,000 plants in the first week of September, the crops will be set for harvest by March or April.
While insects and plant sickness endanger the growth of these fruits, Jagdish thinks it’s a common phenomenon that every crop is exposed to a certain degree to. He still maintains that several parts of Rajasthan with favourable air, water and soil can yield profits from strawberry cultivation.
The next big thing on Jagdish’s list is to try his hand at strawberry processing, once he received efficient training and guidance in the same.
Feature Image Credit: Times of India