Horticulture minister Vidya Stokes underlined the need for change in the existing strawberry cultivation by adopting new and improved variety so as develop it as an alternative crop in the state other than apples.
She disclosed that as per-hectare production of any of cash crop was low in the state, strawberry could be an alternative for horticulturists to further enhance the production of cash crops.
Stokes was speaking here on Saturday during a seminar organised by Edge India Agrotech on
“Generation next fruit cultivars strawberry and saffron”.
“Our agro economy has suffered due to constraints like limited landholdings, unpredictable climatic conditions and irrigation problem,” said Stokes.
Technology transfer and change in mindset of horticulturists was must for diversification of crops and also the horticulture department of the state was putting its efforts to increase per-hectare production, she said.
Lauding the efforts of Edge India Agrotech for researching upon saffron cultivation, Stokes said the research was going on at Sainj in close cooperation with consultants from Ireland and hoped that it would play a vital role to improve agro economy of the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Edge India Agrotech proprietor Mahesh Sood said strawberry's day-neutral cultivars “Whitney and Albion” was experimented and introduced by Edge India Agrotech.
“Their behaviour is being studied and monitored by expert researchers,” said Sood.
Strawberry expert and representatives of Ekland Marketing Company, California, Bob Nottelman said day-neutral varieties of strawberry were the ones which bear fruits throughout the year irrespective of the season and day length.
“For best cultivars and proven technology adoption is only possible through proper coordination between farmers and experts,” said Nottelman.
Terming it as best alternative for crop diversification, he said after apple season, the grower could cultivate strawberry for more income.
Edge India imported the trial breeds of Whitney and Albion from California and propagated them by using shelter farming methods in Mashobra and Sainj farms in Himachal, he added.
Meanwhile, horticulture director Gurudev Singh explained the status of overall horticulture and specially strawberry in Himachal.
There was 50 hectares under strawberry cultivation in the state, in which production of strawberry was 348 metric tonnes in 2012-13, he said.
“The highest production and land under cultivation of strawberry is in Sirmaur district,” he said, adding that 275 metric tonnes was produced from 38 hectares under strawberry cultivation in Sirmaur district of Himachal.