Sugarcane farmers opt for strawberries for better returns


Taking a cue from Gurleen Chawla of Jhansi who found a mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’, more and more farmers in western Uttar Pradesh are giving up on farming of traditional crops and opting for strawberry farming.

These farmers are giving up on sugarcane farming, mainly because of delayed payments from sugar mills.

Prahlad Kumar and Shishupal are sugarcane farmers on the Amroha-Meerut border. They have been into sugarcane farming since generations but this year, both have decided to opt for strawberry farming.

“One of my relatives started strawberry farming in Muzaffarnagar on a one-bigha plot on an experimental basis last year. His crop was good and his income almost doubled. He has given us saplings and we are also going to start strawberry farming,” said Shishupal.

A major problem that farmers in this region are facing is the lack of availability of strawberry saplings.

A group of farmers have purchased saplings from Himachal Pradesh at Rs 2 per plant.

“Seeing the increasing popularity of the fruit, several youths are now trying to start the business of getting saplings and selling them here from Mahabaleshwar and Himachal Pradesh. Some are already trying to arrange for the sale of strawberries in bigger cities. This means income for all — farmers, sapling sellers and fruit buyers,” he said.

An added boon for sugarcane farmers is the fact that strawberries can also be grown along with the traditional crops.

Strawberry is sown in December and gives fruits by March. Sugarcane can then be sown after March.

Besides, strawberry brings instant income while sugarcane farmers have to wait endlessly for sugar mills to clear their payments.