Srinagar: The harvesting of the famous Kashmiri strawberry crop in Gaasu Khimber village in the outskirts of Srinagar has begun with much satisfaction to the farmers about the production despite hot weather conditions and late rainfall.
Farmers with baskets filled with the freshly harvested strawberries, one of the first horticulture crops of the season in Kashmir, were seen moving in the fields in Gaasu Khimber village.
Gaasu Khimber is the home land of about one thousand farmers who are associated with the Strawberry trade and there are apple orchards as well which are a source of their livelihood.
“The production this year is very satisfactory compared to the last year despite unseasonal hot weather and late rainfall”, said Manzoor Ahmad, a farmer.
He said due to sudden hot weather conditions in March month there was an apprehension that the crop may dry or get burned due to the sweltering heat wave.
He said, since the Strawberry crop needs slight daily evening showers manually or naturally, the farmers were much worried about the crop production.
Manzoor said “we pour the water in the fields to save the crop from the unseasonal heat that proved a little bit disastrous as many plants withered. However, when the weather turned pleasant and rainfall started the crops rejuvenated again much to the delight of farmers.
Strawberry farming was introduced in the valley due to its favorable climate conditions and Gaasu Khimber areas are being considered to be the most appropriate for the crop.
The harvesting of strawberries is also being done in Tangmarg in north Kashmir and some parts of South also but the fruit at Gaasu Khimber areas in Srinagar is considered bigger in size, much juicy and good in taste according to the farmers.
Gaasu village alone produces almost one thousand trays equal to 2000kg per day, Manzoor said and added that an eight tray bowl of 2 kg Strawberry costs for Rs 350 at the field.
“We are mostly sending the fruit directly to Mandi and some customers are also taking from us directly”, he said.
Ice Cream factory, Bakery shop owners and Juice factory people mostly purchase the fruit from us, Manzoor said.
He appealed to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to provide bore wells so that the water when needed the crop in time could be provided which would be beneficial for the fruit and increase the production.