Srinagar: Smiles have returned on the faces of Kashmir farmers after strawberry demand soared for the first time in two years.
Strawberry is the season’s first crop in Kashmir. This year the production is expected to cross 2,500 metric tonnes.
For the last two years, strawberry farmers suffered huge losses as the produce could not be shipped to mandies due to pandemic and lockdown.
“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,” said Farooq Ahmad, a grower.
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.
Farooq said 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 said.
Farmers claim that the inclement 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 Parvez Ahmad Bhat, a grower and a dealer of strawberries from Nishat.
Strawberry growers demand the shipping facility for the fruit to other states. “We don’t understand why strawberry doesn’t reach other states. Department of horticulture should have take measures to ship out produce to other places,” he said.
An official from the horticulture department said they have marketing facilities in place for strawberries in the valley. “This fruit is consumed locally mostly by the tourists during the spring season. We have many fruit mandis wherefrom the fruits are shipped to various districts and markets,” he said.