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Farmer's experiment bears strawberry fruit

Das shows the strawberry produced in his field. Picture by main Uddin Chisti

Cooch Behar: A farmer from Tufanganj 2 block of Cooch Behar district has successfully cultivated strawberry in his field and earned accolades from agricultural experts and local people.

Dipak Chandra Das, a resident of Banshraja village, had planted strawberry plants in a portion of his field two months back. Recently, the plants had borne fruits and Das is happy harvesting the first yield.

In 2016, Das was honoured with "Krishak Samman" by the state government for his unique idea of farming. He owns around eight bighas of land in the village.

"I have cultivated broccoli, cauliflower and some other vegetables using organic fertiliser and could make a good harvest. A few months back, I thought of cultivating strawberry and took help from experts of the North Bengal University. So far I know, strawberry is not cultivated anywhere else in Cooch Behar district," he said.

The fruit is cultivated in some stretches of the Darjeeling hills but is a rare in the plains. A kilo of strawberry fetches around Rs 350 to Rs 400 in the local wholesale market, said sources.

Experts at Centre for Floriculture & Agri-Business Management (Cofam), based in NBU, have also appreciated him. "It is a high-value crop and can fetch decent prices to farmers. It is good that he (Das) took the initiative and succeeded. Other farmers can also opt for it," Amarendra Pandey, a technical officer posted at the biotechnology wing of Cofam, said.

In the first lot, Das had planted around 150 saplings, all of which have yielded the fruit. With the idea turning into a success, Das is now thinking of increasing his area of strawberry cultivation.

"After the harvest, I have received calls from buyers based in Mainaguri (of Jalpaiguri district) who are ready to pay me the same rate like they pay other strawberry cultivators in the hills. From now on, I will increase the area of strawberry cultivation," said the farmer.

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