• The Nilgiris, known for its teas, potatoes, carrots and a range of exotic vegetables, is witnessing farmers going in for strawberries too.
  • Strawberry plants were grown in the Nilgiris, especially in Thambatty area, as early as 100 years ago.
  • Though strawberry cultivation is risky, demanding investment and maintenance, the market is growing and farmers are slowly getting into it.
  • Farmers get the saplings from different States and some firms import them, too.
  • It is a high-value, short-duration crop and the strawberries picked from the Nilgiris gardens are sold across the country.
  • Even the varieties grown in Europe and California can be raised in the Nilgiris, it is learnt.
  • The demand for strawberries is high in the southern States and there are farmers who sell in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Mumbai also.
  • Better awareness among consumers about the nutrient-rich fruit is driving demand.
  • After June, when production declines in the other States, strawberries from the Nilgiris are sold across the country.
  • A majority of the strawberry produce in the country comes from Mahabaleshwar.

No value addition?

  • However, there is no harvest in that region from June to November.
  • The fruit is harvested throughout the year only in the Nilgiris.
  • Farmers and companies that are into strawberry cultivation in the Nilgiris prefer selling the fruit rather than going in for value addition.
  • The fruits are of better quality if the crop is grown under controlled conditions.
  • The initial cost of investment is high, though that varies depending on the variety.
  • Farmers should have a polyhouse and take up mulching.
  • They should be able to tie up directly for marketing.