Strawberries cherry-picked from Nilgiris

Prelims level : Environment & BD – Plant Species Mains level : GS IIIConservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
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The Nilgiris, known for its teas, potatoes, carrots and a range of exotic vegetables, is witnessing farmers going in for strawberries too.

Strawberry plants were grown in the Nilgiris, especially in Thambatty area, as early as 100 years ago.In the last three to four years, the area under strawberry cultivation has increased to about 25 acres in the district.

Though strawberry cultivation is risky, demanding investment and maintenance, the market is growing and farmers are slowly getting into it. Farmers get the saplings from different States and some firms import them, too.

Short-duration crop

It is a high-value, short-duration crop and the strawberries picked from the Nilgiris gardens are sold across the country. Even the varieties grown in Europe and California can be raised in the Nilgiris.

No value addition

Farmers and companies that are into strawberry cultivation in the Nilgiris prefer selling the fruit rather than going in for value addition.

The Tamil Nadu government had come out with a scheme to support strawberry farmers. However, the farmers have sought higher financial support from the government.

Strawberry Cultivation in India:

Mahabaleshwar strawberry is a strawberry grown in the hilly slopes of Mahabaleshwar, which accounts for about 85 percent of the total strawberry produced in India.

Strawberry, along with raspberry, mulberry and gooseberry, is produced on a large scale in and around Mahabaleshwar.
Mahabaleshwar strawberry obtained the geographical indication (GI) tag in 2010.

Strawberries were brought to the region from Australia by the British during the British rule. Mahabaleshwar was the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency under British Raj.
Since then, local farmers have developed their own varieties of the fruit, some of which are imported from other places.

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