Mon, 05 Jun 2023

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], May 25 (ANI): Gasso, located on the outskirts of Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar has gained recognition as the renowned Strawberry Village, celebrated for its high-quality strawberries.

The air is filled with excitement as dozens of families are deeply involved in the cultivation and harvesting of this succulent fruit, which serves as their main source of income.

Abdul Hameed Dar, a local farmer, expressed the dedication and effort required to yield a bountiful strawberry harvest/ "Preparing a good yield of strawberries demands years of hard work," he said.

Reflecting on the village's success, he explained how the collaboration between local farmers and authorities over 15 years ago sparked a shift towards large-scale strawberry farming.

"While many adjacent areas were selected for farming, our area proved to be the most successful. Since then, there has been no looking back," Dar proudly stated.

Currently, his family and many others are directly and indirectly associated with this thriving industry.

Ghulam Nabi Dar, another farmer, emphasized the year-round commitment involved in strawberry farming until the fruit reaches the market. He called for governmental support to enhance profitability.

"We need better schemes and assistance from experts to make this business more profitable and encourage more people to join. While a single family can earn lakhs of rupees, the work is equally arduous. We have to invest in labour, fertilization, de-weeding, and other essential aspects, which require capital," he said.

Ghulam Nabi emphasized that the whole family must dedicate their time to farming to ensure its profitability.

Beyond the direct involvement of dozens of families in strawberry cultivation, the village also serves as a hub for local vendors, transporters, and labourers engaged in various activities related to the industry. Farooq Ahmad, a supplier, explained the intricacies of his role. "I arrive early in the morning to procure fresh supplies for the day," he said.

Since strawberries have a short shelf life, we replenish our stock daily and distribute them to street vendors and fruit markets. This season keeps us extremely busy as we spend most of our time in the area, sourcing supplies directly from the farmers."Farmers in Gasso proudly share that strawberry cultivation here generates an annual turnover of lakhs of rupees. However, challenges persist, such as the adverse effects of incessant rains on this year's yield, coupled with reduced market rates. They emphasize the necessity for authorities to provide facilities that could have protected their crops. The farmers express the urgent need for the government's personal involvement in this farming sector, ensuring that schemes reach the farmers. They also highlight the importance of bore wells to secure a consistent water supply for the crops.

Moreover, the farmers request refrigerated vehicles from the government to transport their perishable produce to markets across India. This not only ensures higher prices for their fruits but also generates more employment opportunities from the flourishing industry.

Manzoor Ahmad, another passionate farmer, advocated for this support and said, "We demand refrigerated vehicles from the government to enable the transport of our short-lived fruit to markets across India. It will help us fetch higher prices and ensure the growth of employment opportunities linked to this crop."In the midst of Gasso's strawberry harvest, it becomes evident that this village is more than just a picturesque landscape of flourishing fruit fields.

It symbolizes the hard work, aspirations, and resilience of the farmers and their families who toil tirelessly to nurture and cultivate these delicate red berries. As they yearn for governmental assistance and the realization of their aspirations, the strawberry village of Gasso stands as a testament to the unyielding spirit of rural communities striving to thrive in an evolving agricultural landscape. (ANI)

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