Indian strawberries that are grown in North Bengal completely rely on saplings and seeds brought in from Pune. The uptick in strawberry farming in north Bengal has encouraged cultivators to demand that the government make available saplings and seeds at the local level so that the cost of production comes down.
Strawberry growers in north Bengal have to rely on saplings and seeds brought from Pune, where the materials are imported from California, Florida and Italy.
“As the planting materials are not available here, we have to bear extra costs to procure them from Pune. If we can get the materials here, we will be able to expand our cultivation and more farmers will be interested in strawberry farming,” said Ratan Das, a Siliguri farmer.
Sources said COFAM, which works on agriculture under North Bengal University, had been promoting strawberry as a cash crop in rural areas of Siliguri and also in the Darjeeling hills. Amrendra Kumar Pandey, a practical demonstrator at COFAM, said the hills were suitable for preparing seeds and saplings.
As of now, a strawberry seedling brought from Pune costs around Rs 12 to 15 (€0.16-0.20). This can be reduced to Rs 7 or 8 (€0.09-0.12) if the saplings are made locally.