Strawberry farmers in Gurgaon and neighbouring areas have found a new way to preserve their produce during summer and earn more profit by preparing jam, jelly and other edibles.
Earlier, a handful of strawberry growers who have started cultivating the hilly region crop in Manesar and other areas had to suffer huge losses as they were unable to protect their yields during summer.
No wonder the villagers of Naurangpur used to call Jagdish Kumar as bawra, meaning insane in local dialect, because he chose to cultivate strawberry when others preferred to grow regular crops.
“The mortality rate of strawberry plant is between 50-100% in this region. I lost a lot of money when I started growing it a few years ago,” said Jagdish.
But now he is planning to expand his strawberry farming, thanks to the training on preservation techniques provided at a processing unit set up in the area by the NGO Women's Action Forum.
“My business has grown so much over the years that we can't meet all the orders because of lack of storage facilities,” said Jagdish who has tied up with a storage unit to preserve his crop. Ameena Sherwani of Women's Action Forum said: “I believe that agriculture and industry are not at loggerheads. This processing unit is an attempt to marry both.”
Currently, strawberry is grown in about 150 acres of land in Manesar and nearby regions.
Sherwani said experts will train more farmers on how to get better yield. The Forum will approach buyers to sell the processed food.
“Here we would train the farmers to make jams, squash and sauces. After they learn the art of preservation, we would solicit buyers somehow,” Sherwani said. Strawberry farmers are hoping that this method of preservation will fetch them a good price.