Khagesh, of Panchnota village, block Nangal Choudhry, Mahendragarh district of Haryana, is a farmer who has taken up the commercial cultivation of strawberries. Khagesh has 5 acres of land, where he used to cultivate onion, mustard, wheat, and millet.
A development project, funded and implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation, started its activities in Panchnota in September 2021. The project team encouraged Khagesh to take up strawberry cultivation, as this area is highly suitable for growing such a fruit crop. Khagesh’s desire to become a progressive farmer of this area manifested when he was selected as one of the demonstration farmers of S M Sehgal Foundation’s project in 2021–2022.
Since this was a demonstration of a new intervention to convince farmers of the village through learning by doing, the project team provided 5,000 strawberry saplings to Khagesh, who planted them in half an acre of his field, in October 2021.
Strawberry grows in the winter season, having crop cycle of 4–5 months, and harvesting of fruit is done for three months. Khagesh planted the strawberry saplings in polytunnels to protect them from frost. This was advised by the project team, who also provided the material for about fourteen polytunnels and trained him on this intervention.
Khagesh harvested the 5,000 strawberries plants four times a month in January as well as in February, with the average yield of 10 kg per harvest. He marketed the produce in local markets of Narnaul and Nangal Choudhry, where there is a high demand for them. The strawberries fetched a good price of INR 300 per kg, which all together amounted to INR 1,25,880 per season.
After observing the success of this intervention, about six farmers of that area made plans to shift to strawberry cultivation in the very next season. Khagesh particularly expressed gratitude for the technical hand holding that he received from the project team.
Authors: Siddhartha Raj and Naveen Pratap Singh
(Siddhartha is project associate, Mahendragarh, and Naveen is program lead, Agriculture Development at S M Sehgal Foundation)