Most of us like the strawberry fruit, filled as it is with fibre, vitamins and good taste. But we do tend to assume it can only grow on some cold hills somewhere. Shattering that myth, Shashidhar Chikkappa Goravar, a farmer from Karnataka, is cultivating the fruit at his farm in Dharwad district.
“Many assume that this fruit can be cultivated only in temperate climates, but I can say that the fruit can be grown in hot places too and I am an example for it,” says Shashidhar to The Better India (TBI).
The 44-year-old farmer has cultivated organic strawberries, just before the winter in Karnataka. Shashidhar currently cultivates 25,000 strawberry plants in one acre of land. He says, “I have taken the land for lease. In one acre, 30 tonnes of fruit can be harvested. I have already received strawberry orders from Kerala, Goa, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.”
He recalls, “Earlier I was working in a construction company in Maharashtra’s Mahabaleshwar, which is also famous for strawberry cultivation. I completed training at a Mahabaleshwar farm for a year and learned how to grow organic strawberries. With the help of an agent, I procured about 250 mother plants of strawberry from California and began cultivation in September 2019, in Karnataka.”
With the help of family members and other workers, Shashidhar began cultivation. After a month, the strawberries were ready for harvest. “My family and I were so delighted about the harvest. Many authorities had claimed strawberries wouldn’t grow in my place, but I proved them wrong. There are many varieties of strawberries, some can even grow in hot places like mine,” says Sashidhar to TBI.
Once the harvest was completed, Shashidhar, his wife, two kids and other workers packed the strawberries and sent them to different places as per their orders. “My younger son helps me in packing strawberries and the elder son helps in marketing the products. And my wife supports me in all things, whether it is watering the plants or packing the products,” says Sashidhar.
Talking about the profit from the cultivation, Shashidhar says, “The profit is based on the market price. This time I got Rs 6-8 Lakh. If the market price is low then I won’t get this much.”
Shashidhar has also grown raspberries. He is expecting a harvest of raspberries by next year. The farmer is also planning to grow mulberries and gooseberries in his farms.
He is also selling saplings of strawberries. Each plant costs Rs 10, though Shashidhar adds that he is willing to give advice for free.
Not any easy job
“Lots of efforts are required to take care of these plants. I water the plants once a day. Each plant must be cleaned otherwise the harvest will be harmed. Dry leaves also should be removed,” he says, and adds, “If the plant needs any kind of medicine, then it is given through the water. Anyone can start cultivating strawberries, if there are two members in a family then they cultivate in their terrace as well.”
He adds, “Things to be remembered before planting the strawberry plant is that the soil should be good enough for the growth of the sapling. Water the plant once in a day. You may also put food waste as manure. Clean the area where the plant is placed and also remove dry leaves in the plant. Nothing else is required. After 1.5 months, you will get fresh strawberries from the plant.”
He says, “In just 30×40 sq ft, almost 500 strawberry plants can be cultivated. To keep the plants cool and moist, drip irrigation can also be used.”
If everything goes good then Sashidhar is planning to open a training institute for berry farming.
“Once the Coronavirus tension goes, I will be talking to authorities and going ahead with the training institute. Many of us don’t have knowledge about berry farming. I am happy to help others to get a good income from berry cultivation,” adds Shashidhar.
To know more, get in touch with Shashidhar on WhatsApp at 86988 89944.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)