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Strawberry fruits plucked by SHG members from a plantation at Verle

Strawberry cultivation gaining ground in Neturlim

CURCHOREM: When we think of strawberry fruits, the hill stations of Mahabaleshwar and Panchagani in Maharashtra come to mind. But the hilly areas of Verle and Tudav in Neturlim village panchayat’s jurisdiction in Sanguem taluka have also been found to be conducive for cultivation of strawberries.

Shiv Shakti SHG and Bhumika SHG have carried out strawberry plantations at Verle in a 1,000 sq metre and 3,000 sq metre area respectively while Udengi SHG has started strawberry plantation at Tudav.

The two areas have turned into an attraction for domestic tourists who come and relish the strawberries grown by three self-help groups – Shiv Shakti SHG, Bhumika SHG and Udengi SHG.

In fact, the farmers of Verla had started strawberry cultivation in 2014 with the cooperation of Mineral Foundation of Goa. But due to pest attack on the crop in 2015, they had suffered heavy losses and had to give up cultivation.

This year, the Atal Gram Development Agency (AGDA) has come to the rescue of the farmers. Some 10 members of self-help groups were imparted training in Mahabaleshwar. Also, experts from Mahabaleshwar were invited to Verle, who conducted soil testing and declared that the soil and climate is conducive for taking up strawberry cultivation.

Under their guidance, the farmers were trained in strawberry plantation, use of manure and medicines to take care of the crop. Thirty-thousand good-yielding strawberry saplings were brought from Mahabaleshwar and cultivation was started during the last week of October. As expected, they have reaped the yield within 48 days and a shopkeeper has assured to purchase the fruits.

President of Shiv Shakti SHG Ranjana Gaonkar said, “We are overjoyed to see the strawberry yield. The plantation has been done by eleven members of our group. We have also started selling the strawberry packets consists of about 15 strawberries with a packet priced at Rs 80.”

President of Bhumika SHG Alka Gaonkar said that earlier they were engaged in chilli plantation. But, when the officials of Atal Gram Development Agency introduced strawberry cultivation, they got attracted to it. We have planted some 11,000 saplings and we are happy to see that our efforts have started bearing fruits. The strawberries are supplied to a dealer in Margao and also to Horticulture department.”

Satish Gaonkar, attached to Udengi SHG, informed that members of the group have planted 2500 saplings which have started bearing fruits. Tourists who visit the area buy the strawberry packets and relish the fruits.

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