Zizira operates from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya in the Northeast part of India – a region known for its verdant landscape, natural springs that irrigate fields, and unique herbs and spices. Over 80% of the population depend on agriculture but struggle to market their produce. Zizira is striving to open markets for them.
Read our story – how our conscious business is making a difference to the community of farmers of our state Meghalaya.
The visit answered a question we had – can strawberries grow in Meghalaya? Yes, it can and that too as a profitable cultivation option.
In the middle of April '15, team Zizira made one more field visit - this time to Dewlieh Strawberry Farm run by the Directorate of Horticulture of the Government of Meghalaya.
Dewlieh Strawberry farm is a research and development station and is under the care of Solomon Pyngrope, who is also in-charge of the Government seeds farm at Umwang.
Did you know that growing strawberries has changed the lives of many farmers in this region?
Read a truly inspiring report about how farmers have benefited by growing strawberries. The Dewlieh Farm experiments with strawberries, flowers and vegetables. But, their present focus is on strawberries. The farm now generates its own strawberry seeds, whereas, earlier the farmers had to purchase the seeds from the market.
Trivia: Did you know that the seeds of the strawberry fruit are on its skin? Visible outside? See the above picture closely and you will notice the seeds all over the fruit.
The produce from this farm are sold in the local markets of Shillong and also in markets in the States of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
What you see below is the view as you enter the Dewlieh Strawberry Farm – notice the greenhouse structures that are used for growing Gerbera flowers. The white parallel lines on the right are the strawberry fields.
Did you know? The normal production of the strawberry in Meghalaya is about 400 Kgs per day while the demand is a tonne a day (1000 Kgs a day)! Is there not an opportunity here for enterprising farmers to grab?
What you see below are the Strawberry beds at the Dewlieh farm. The rows of Strawberries growing in raised beds are a striking sight, is it not?
Cultivating strawberry fruit is not as easy as it needs a lot of care. But the advantage is that it is a short-term crop and the returns are handsome. From what we gathered from the report cited above, farmers can earn anywhere from Rs.40,000 to Rs.100, 000 per season. And a season is around 4 to 5 months - from planting the saplings to harvesting.
Our team gathered that there are farmers growing only strawberries and they have a village dedicated to strawberry cultivation called Sohliya village. The Zizira team visited this village too.
In the image above, note that the beds have been raised to a certain height and covered with bio-degradable plastic.
This is done so that there is enough space for the strawberry creepers to spread evenly on a smooth surface and not get entangled with one another. If grown this way there is ample space for the fruits to grow and ripen. And, this method improves yield.
Here you can see the young strawberries nestling among the fresh strawberry leaves on the farm.
The Dewlieh farm also grows flowers.
A popular song of the 60s by Nancy Sinatra went thus:
Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring My summer wine is really made from all these things
For the Zizira Team it was:
Strawberries, Gerberas on a Sunny Springy day! Organic Strawberries are really growing in this very way!!
In Dewlieh Farm, they also grow flowers in greenhouses. Bright, healthy Gerberas are what greeted the Zizira team on this field visit.
Drip irrigation is used to water the plants. This again is a research project and they share the details with floriculturists to help them improve their yield. Have you tasted Meghalaya grown Strawberries? Do you know someone cultivating them in any part of India?