Thaindian.com, 20th January, 2009
By : Pavan Kaushik
Who had thought that in the middle of Kalahandi District in Orissa, India, farmers would cultivate Strawberry that would increase their income and their profit multi-fold. The project came from Vedanta Group company – Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL). The Pilot Project costing about Rs. 3.00 Lacs came as a boon to the farmers who had never imagined of cultivating a cash crop, that would enhance their earning multi-fold. It was quite new to them and instant reaction as expected was that of surprise and dismay. The CSR team of VAL had a daunting task to convince farmers on one hand and put-together all technical aspects to yield better results. Regular interaction with farmers and experts gave results and 13 farmers instantly came forward from villages like Rengopali, Tangankana, Balbhadrapur, Parvatipur and Banegaon to cultivate this cash rich crop – Strawberry. The crop is so rich that it would increase the net profit of farmers from Rs. 50,000 – Rs. 75,000 per acre in a span of 6 months, i.e. first season.
Besides organizing training programmes in the villages, the Vedanta team was also involved in providing the strawberry runners, manure and the basic techniques of cultivation. The high quality, high yielding runners were procured from Solan. Around 70,000 runners were planted in 3.5 acres of land. Regular monitoring and supervision of the field was carried out for better yield and production. The farmers and VAL team worked hand in hand.
The runners developed by the end of November and around the first week of December it started bearing flowers. In no time the sweet fruit of the hard labour of the farmers bore and ripened in shape of STRAWBERRY!!.
Strawberry Cultivation has become an example in the villages of Lanjigarh area. The farmers never believed that they could cultivate a rich crop like strawberry. It was always a thought of cultivating regular pattern of crops.
Kalahandi District is known to be one of the most backward, hunger and poverty stricken areas in India. The project brought a shift in the lives of the farmers in the District.
Up-came a high degree of mutual trust and understanding amongst the farmers and VAL. The farmers of the neighboring villages come to see the fields and are planning to take up the same cultivation in their land..
Its is true, Strawberry has come in Kalahandi - The Journey has just begun.