Gurleen Chawla, the 23-year-old woman credited with introducing strawberry farming in Jhansi, met chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted her efforts in his monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat.
The law student thanked CM Adityanath for recognising her efforts by organising a month-long strawberry festival in Jhansi. Harjeet Singh, her father, also thanked PM Modi for mentioning her daughter’s achievement in his radio programme.
The PM had said that Gurleen’s experiment had shown that growing strawberries was possible in Jhansi too.
Experts said the PM’s mention during the ongoing strawberry festival is now likely to help push up strawberry cultivation in Bundelkhand region.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had virtually inaugurated the festival in Jhansi on January 17. The festival ends on February 16.
Later, in a tweet, Yogi Adityanath thanked the PM for mentioning strawberry cultivation in Jhansi in his radio talk show. During his meeting, Yogi encouraged Gurleen to promote strawberry cultivation.
The soil of Bundelkhand region is suited for strawberry farming as it is free of pesticides, experts said. Initially, strawberry was grown at the roof–top of a house in Jhansi and thereafter it was cultivated in a field with the help of drip irrigation.
“There is a general belief that the soil of the Bundelkhand region is not suitable for such fruits. Strawberry could prove to be an additional mode of earning for farmers of the region,” said an expert.
Andre Vamsi, district magistrate of Jhansi, assured all help to farmers who opt to cultivate strawberries. “Strawberry cultivation will be promoted all over Bundelkhand. Farmers of the region can benefit a lot from this fruit crop,” said Raja Bundela, vice chairman, Bundelkhand Development Board.
He said the Board will also help popularise strawberry cultivation in Bundelkhand.
Experts said that on 1.5 acres of land, around 10,000 kg of strawberry is grown which could be sold for ₹100 per kg.
Mahabaleshwar in south-western Maharashtra is also known for strawberry cultivation. Nearly 85 per cent of the country’s strawberries are produced there.
Along with strawberry, raspberry, mulberry and gooseberry are also produced there.