Monday, August 13, 2012

Munnar to Boost its Strawberry Farms

The amazing hills of Munnar could soon be wearing a new colour as around 3,500 farmers are preparing to take up the commercial cultivation of strawberry to a higher level.

The Kerala State Horticultural Mission (KSHM) has come up an amazing project to cultivate strawberry in around 750 acres of land and for this, Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan states that this project would be taken up under the hi-tech farming scheme which is announced in the recent budget.

The Minister also said that the farmers were expected to earn much better returns by diversifying into the high-value crop such as Strawberries and this  initiative is mainly because the cold climate in Munnar offers the most conducive environment for Strawberry farming.  Government has plans to extend the project to other parts of the Kerala by providing mist irrigation facility. A few planters in Nelliampathy in the Northern Kerala have already experimented with strawberry farming and tasted success.

KSHM Director  K. Prathapan said that the Rs.6-crore strawberry project was designed to provide the best value addition and market linkage for farmers. Horticorp will be procuring the strawberries from the farmers and Kudumbasree units will take up the responsibility of processing the fresh fruit. KSHM had identified a team of women for the same and they will be sent to the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, for training in fruit processing. The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK)  will help in  organising the farmers into societies.

On behalf of the project, the cold storage set up by Horticorp at Munnar 11 years ago had been revived and this comes mainly under the proposal to establish a State-wide cold chain. The unprocessed fruits will be transported to Kochi and these fruits will be carried in refrigerated trucks. Once it reaches Kochi, they will be sold through shopping malls and the strawberries from Munnar would be sold under the ‘Safe to Eat’ brand.

Planting of Strawberries are expected to commence by the first week of September and the necessary planting materials will be procured from accredited nurseries in the northern part of India.

KSHM has also prepared another scheme to promote homestead cultivation of low chill fruits such as apple,  plum, pear and peachin Munnar. Overall such activities will add more to the tourism industry in Munnar as a lot of travelers comes to Munnar to watch its amazing beauty, its breath taking tea plantation and the fresh fruits that are available in Munnar.

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