There was a time when the farmers of Odisha had never imagined in their wildest dreams that they could grow a foreign fruit like strawberry. But with the passage of time and the introduction of technical and financial support, the farmers in Kandhamal and Malkangiri have not only made it a reality but also a big success.
These days, if you visit Sulumaha village under the Daringbadi block of Kandhamal district, you will be welcomed by acres of farmland with rows of strawberry plantations. The sight will be a treat for any untrained eyes.
The farmers planted strawberry saplings in November 2023. Just in two months, their farmlands are now covered with fruits. They can be seen plucking and packing the juicy fruits. These farmers are a happy lot due to the bumper harvest. They have ascribed this to the suitable climate, organic methods, and support from the district administration. The administration had provided saplings, barbed wire for fencing, polythene sheets and irrigation facility.
“We toiled hard to grow these fruits. Our labour has paid off in just two months,” said Priskila Pradhan, a strawberry farmer in Sulumaha village.
Another Strawberry farmer of Sulumaha village, Chandrika Nayak said, “I am happy seeing my fruit-bearing plants. The time for selling the ripe strawberries has come.”
Expressing his happiness, Daringbadi BDO Gadadhar Patra said, "They didn’t have to spend much. The administration has provided financial and technical support to them. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the plants are bearing fruits. Selling has also started. The female farmers are very happy and they are very excited.”
Similarly, two farmer siblings from the Bonda Ghat area of Malkangiri - Laxman Muduli and Mangulu Muduli - have also scripted success. After getting financial support from the Odisha PVTG Empowerment and Livelihood Improvement Programme (OPELIP) and the required training, they took up what was once considered impossible in their ghat terrain. On a trial basis, they undertook cultivation on one-acre land and expect a harvest of 10 quintals of strawberries. Nowadays, they are selling strawberries at Rs 250 a kilogram.
“Around 20,000 plants have been planted on an acre of land. We expect to get 300 grams of fruits from a tree. If roughly calculated, they would give a harvest of 6,000 kilograms of berries. In Jeypore and nearby areas, they are selling at Rs 250 a kilogram,” said Ajit Sahu, project manager, Bonda Development Authority.