Cultivation of strawberries is expected to bring in sweet monetary rewards for farmers in Netarhat — which is among the most famous tourist places in the beautiful plains situated on the foothills of Jharkhand.
Even though only two acres of land have been brought under cultivation of the delicious fruit at present, farmers in the area are looking forward to taking up cultivation and expect good returns in due course of time.
South Indian farmer Srinivasan Raju, who came to Netarhat, nearly 100 km from Ranchi, took the initiative of cultivating strawberries with area farmers since the climate and soil of Netarhat is suitable for strawberry cultivation.
Raju says he started cultivating strawberries in his two-acre field with the hope that it would yield good monetary returns.
The issue of strawberry cultivation in Netarhat was taken up first in 2018 by KK Son, then deputy commissioner of Latehar. He held a meeting with officials at Netarhat and directed them to cultivate strawberries on a 25-acre land in Netarhat.
"Just as the tourists come to Netarhat to see the cultivation of pears, in the same way, strawberries would also be a tourist attraction," he pointed out.
Raju says the cultivation of strawberries usually takes place from December to February, but in Netarhat strawberries are also produced in March, April, October, and November as the temperature in the area is not too high.
He claimed he has been cultivating strawberries in this area for 12 years, and it has been started on a large scale now.
An acre of land, he said, can yield five tonnes of strawberries per acre, adding that this can go up to 8 to 10 tonnes if the weather is favorable.
Strawberry is usually sold in the retail market at Rs 500 per kg. Agriculture Officer of Latehar district, Anjani Kumar Mishra, also appreciates the initiative in growing strawberries, pointing out that the department is ready to provide all possible help to the prospective strawberry farmers.
Apart from Latehar, Palamu district is also known for strawberry cultivation. One can see the fruit farm in Kauwakoh village along the national highway in the Hariharganj police station area of Palamu district. It provides employment to scores of laborers.
Farmers of Amba in Aurangabad in Bihar, which lies adjacent to Palamu district, not only make profits by cultivating strawberries but also provide employment to other people..