Strawberry cultivation is picking up in J&K, thus yielding good fortunes and providing ample employment opportunities to local youths. The Central government and J&K Government are providing loan and technical handholding to young farmers to attract them towards the farming business.
The favourable climatic condition in J&K has provided ample opportunities for the youth to take up strawberry farming as a business for better sustainability. Farmers in Gassu Batpora village on the outskirts of Srinagar city are happy with the bumper crop of strawberries.
Having the highest number of people growing strawberries, Gassu is famously known as the ‘Strawberry village’ where farmers cultivate tonnes of exotic berries on hundreds of acres of land every year. It is also the first one to produce strawberries in the entire Kashmir valley with women and children chipping in to taste the success of this fruit.
In recent years, strawberry has emerged as a cash crop in the valley with many vegetable farmers switching to strawberry cultivation. Besides strawberry, Kashmiri fruits like apple, cherry, grapes, apricot and plum are also very famous across the world for their quality and rich taste and are bringing good returns to the Valley’s farmers.
Defence personnel Dheeraj Kumar began his second innings as an agripreneur and has become a role model for many aspiring agripreneurs, especially the youth who are looking forward to make fortunes in agriculture and allied sectors.
Progressive farmer Dheeraj Kumar, who hails from Haripur village of border Sub-Division Hiranagar, has cultivated strawberries on a field measuring 22-kanal. With the handholding of the department, he has cultivated three different varieties – Camarosa, Winter Dawn and Nubila.
An official said that out of the total investment of Rs 6 lakh by the farmer, the department has provided subsidy to the tune of Rs 2.86 lakh which is nearly 50 per cent of the total investment. It is expected to produce a yield of Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh.
Dheeraj Kumar has engaged around 10 people for levelling, picking, packaging and transport purposes, which he termed as a gratifying experience as offering the avenues of employment to the locals has given him great happiness.
He is supplying his produce to the big malls and business houses like Jammu Basket, Easy Day, Big Bazar, and other markets in and around Pathankot and areas in the periphery of Punjab adjoining Kathua.