The tiny villages located inside Sunabeda wildlife sanctuary in Nuapada district are heading towards a big revolution. The villagers mostly Chakotia Bhunjia tribals are all set to change their financial condition as they have for the first time taken up strawberry cultivation.
And their hard work and dedication have finally paid off as they are reaping a good harvest and earning money.
Till a year ago, not a blade of grass was seen on the fields of this hilly area. The Chakotia Bhunjia tribals were incurring huge losses from traditional farming. Then the Chakotia Bhunjia Development Agency (CBDA) came to their rescue.
Following the direction of the district Collector, the CBDA arranged training for the tribals on how to cultivate strawberries. Till then they didn’t know what strawberry was nor were they aware of the fact that the soil of their lands is good for strawberry plantations.
The CBDA and district horticulture department took the tribals on an exposition to Mahabaleshwar and provided seeds and training.
Now, these red fruits are dotting the vast stretch of land, bringing a smile to the farmers. They are happy because the days of hardship have become a thing of the past. From this strawberry cultivation, they are earning lakhs of rupees.
“We had never seen strawberries before. Now we are seeing these fruits for the first time in our lives. It tastes good. As the cultivation is earning us a good income we will expand the cultivation in the coming year,” said a visibly happy young woman farmer Ganga Bai.
Echoing the same, another strawberry farmer Bishram Chhatriya said he has planted strawberries on two acres of land and hopes to earn around Rs 7 to 8 lakh.
While the villagers started cultivation in October, 2022, the plants are now laden with red juicy fruits. The good thing is that, the business has also started picking up. While there is a demand for this fruit in the local market, they are also being sent to Raipur and Bhubaneswar.
For the coming year, a target has been set to cultivate strawberries on 50 acres.
“I have also taken up strawberry cultivation. Most of my land was lying unutilized. Now I hope the cultivation would earn me a good income,” said Kaliram Chhatriya, a strawberry farmer.
Nowadays, the strawberry cultivation of Sunabeda hilly area has earned a new identity.
“On a pilot project basis, we have taken this initiative of strawberry cultivation on 10 acres by the primitive groups. The result is overwhelming. In the coming year, it will be expanded to more areas,” said Nuapada district Collector Hema Kant Say.
(Reported by Mayadhar Saraf from Nuapada, OTV)