Jhalawar, which has been in the limelight for its oranges, is now experimenting with strawberries. Jhalawar oranges, grown in around 45,000 hectares, are deemed superior to their competitor from Nagpur because of their sweetness, weight, thin peel and longer shelf life.
The horticulture department and Agriculture University of Kota (AUK) are running trials in strawberry cultivation in the area. Rashid Khan, deputy director of the horticulture department said that the College of Horticulture and Forestry, a constituent college of AUK, is growing strawberry at its Jhalawar campus.
“Strawberry is generally grown in hilly areas. Jhalawar’s climate and black soil rich in organic content suits the fruit,” he said.
Professor IB Maurya, who is in charge of the strawberry project at the Horticulture and Forestry College, said that the experiment is being carried out for last two years and over a dozen varieties of strawberries have been tried. “But only the winter dawn variety has shown positive results not only in controlled conditions but also in open agricultural fields,” he said.
He added that around half a dozen farmers are cultivating strawberry on an experimental basis for last two years. Maurya said that due to the shortage of strawberry planting material it could not be extensively grown this year. “Strawberry has great prospects if the fruit is marketed properly.”
“Decision has been taken to conduct extensive trials of strawberry cultivation and carrying out a study through AUK before promoting its commercial cultivation in Jhalawar,” said Ramavatar, a deputy director of the horticulture department .
Upendra Singh, a farmer from Hari Garh village in Jhalawar, who had planted around 3000 strawberry plants on a beegha of land, said that it yielded around 500 grams to 600 grams of fruit. “Strawberry cultivation can be done in Jhalawar but we need proper marketing, cold storages and processing units for the fruit to be profitable for farmers,” he said.
Rashid Khan adds, “Strawberry worth ₹5-6 crore is being grown annually in Chittorgarh and some areas of Udaipur. The fruit can be grown for eight to nine months in a year under controlled conditions by using green shade nets and green houses, he added.