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Strawberries - With Love from Meghalaya

Saidul Khan

From Northern Europe to United States, it has traveled now to India's remote villages of Meghalaya - the strawberries. The berry, which is a symbol of purity and sensuality, fertility and abundance, humility and modesty, has made an overwhelming impact in the lives of hundreds of rural people of Meghalaya.

 


Three years back - Mrs. Increase Kharbani mother of four children living in the small hamlet of Sohliya in Ri-Bhoi district could hardly make her two ends meet. But today, Mrs. Kharbani has reasons to smile.

Like Mrs. Kharbani there are many other women in Sohliya village who has seen a complete life changing experience. Thanks to strawberries. Most of the villagers are doing the cultivation in ½ acre to 3 acres of land and annually they manage to get upto Rs. 25000-50000 in an average depending on its acre of production and yields.

These people have no substitute for hard work; they keep themselves engage in striving for more. The income has added a substantial upliftment for the rural people. It was inspiring to learn how Bethel, without her husband was bringing up her two children. This lady has made a difference in our society with sheer dint of perseveration.

For Mrs. Kharbani and Yosilda Dkhar, the smile comes with hard work. This delicate heart-shaped berry which connotes purity, passion and healing, gave a new meaning for Mrs. Kharbani and Mrs. Dkhar.

Kharbani expresses her joy in Khasi "I am very happy to start strawberry cultivation. It does not take much hard-work in bring the plant and the yield is very high and we are getting good returns. Few years back my economic condition was not at all good. Today my childrens go to school".

Mrs. Dkhar adds in the same tone "Three years back I started the plantation.  We have really benefited from the strawberry cultivation". Being a witness to successful strawberry cultivation which has changed lives of many farmers, Delbiful Dkhar started the cultivation recently and is happy with the yields. He had to say this "I have started strawberry cultivation recently, after seeing our neighbour are getting a high return with less hard-work involved in bring up the plant. I have got the yields and have sold it to the market. I am happy!"

There are more than 350 cultivators in the Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya, where the people's socio-economic condition has been uplifted. The Horticulture department has extended all its assistance to encourage the cultivation. It was started on an experimental basis in 1998.

O. Lyngkhoi, General Secretary Ri-Bhoi Strawberry Growers Association is a happy man, being also a planter himself and a village headman he expresses "Strawberries has changed the lives of the rural village".

Now the picturesque Meghalaya has become the land of strawberries with the third largest producer of strawberries in the country after Maharashtra and Punjab.

Total area under cultivation = 35 hectares

Output = 250 metric tonne every season

Investment at present = 5 crore

Strawberries produced from Ri-Bhoi are being sold at various markets across the country. It is also being exported to Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and various other countries.

 

April 2008

Journalist Saidul Khan is based in Meghalaya state. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.