Strawberry harvesting at peak in Srinagar

City’s strawberry village abuzz with activity
Farmers said that the strawberry cultivation at Gasso registers turnover of lakhs of rupees every year.
Farmers said that the strawberry cultivation at Gasso registers turnover of lakhs of rupees every year.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Gasso area in outskirts of the summer capital is abuzz with harvesting of strawberries

Known as strawberry village, Gasso is known for high-quality strawberries. Dozens of families are directly associated with strawberry farming.

Abdul Hameed Dar, a local said, “It takes years of hard work to prepare a good yield of strawberries.”  “This is the main source of income for most of the farmers here. It started over 15 years back when authorities and local farmers collaborated and started switching to strawberry farming on a large scale. Actually, many adjacent areas were selected for farming, but it was most successful in our area. Since then, there is no looking back. Currently, majority of my family and many others are associated with this directly and indirectly,” Dar said. 

Ghulam Nabi Dar, another farmer, said that they are on their toes all year till the fruit reaches the market. He said that in order to make farming more profitable, the government needs to extend help to them.

“We need better schemes and assistance from experts so that the business will become more profitable and more people will associate with it. One family associated with it can earn lakhs of rupees, but work is equally tough. We have to use labour, fertilisation, and de-weeding, which needs investment of capital,” Ghulam Nabi said, adding that it takes the whole family to invest time in farming to make it profitable.

In addition to dozens of families directly associated with strawberry cultivation. This village is a hub of local vendors, transporters, and laborers who do different works here.

“I come early in the morning and take supplies for the day. This fruit has a short life. So we take fresh supplies each day and then supply them to street vendors and fruit markets. This season is very busy for us, and we spend most of our time in the area getting supplies from the farmers,” Farooq Ahmad, a supplier, said.

Farmers said that the strawberry cultivation at Gasso registers turnover of lakhs of rupees every year.

“This year’s incessant rains affected the yield. The rates also were down. Had there been facilities provided by authorities, we could have saved the crop. There is also a high need for the government to take a personal interest in this farming and ensure that the schemes can reach farmers. We have also been demanding bore wells so that proper supply of water can be ensured to the crop,” said a group of farmers.

They said they have to invest time, labor, fertilisation, de-weeding, and other care which requires capital. They said if the outcome is not good, the strawberry cultivation can run into losses, which can affect the livelihood of people associated with it. 

“We also demand that refrigerated vehicles are provided by the government so that the fruit which has short life can reach markets across India. It will also help us fetch higher prices and  ensure that more employment from this crop is generated,” said Manzoor Ahmad, another farmer.

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