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Strawberry Farming Empowers Women Financially in Kandhamal, Odisha

The Kandamal district, which has now begun strawberry cultivation, is paving the way for economic empowerment for tribal farmers, particularly women in the district.

KJ Staff
Women SHGs are receiving profit up to 2.5 to 3 lakh rupees within just 3-4 months by expanding strawberries
Women SHGs are receiving profit up to 2.5 to 3 lakh rupees within just 3-4 months by expanding strawberries

"We have begun strawberry cultivation on a trial basis to improve the livelihood and economic condition of tribal farmers, particularly women, through this high-value crop, which is more profitable than traditional vegetables," said Ashish Iswar Patil, Collector and District Magistrate of Kandhamal.

Kandhamal is home to indigenous PVTGs such as Kondh (Kandha) and Kotia kandha. It is approximately 600 metres above mean sea level. According to the District Administration, 7 suitable patches (about 14 acres) were chosen on a pilot basis in six blocks, including Phulbani, Phiringia, Chakapada, Raikia, Baliguda, and Daringbadi, and the fields were taken up on a lease basis by Women Self-Help Group (WSHG) members. Each SHG has between 15-20 members.

"Elizabeth, Women SHG of Daringbadi block, Ashirbad, WSHG of Raikia block, and other groups were nurturing winter vegetables like cabbage, cauliflowers, beans, and so on, with annual income up to Rs 10000 - 15000 per acre, but today these Women SHGs are receiving profit up to 2.5 to 3 lakh rupees within just 3-4 months by expanding strawberries in the same patch," Collector Ashish explained.

"Field level trainings were given by experts to the members of Women Self-Help Groups participated in this," Ashish added. "Officers from the horticulture department had also gone on a field visit to Mahabaleswar, Maharastra to gain practical knowledge on strawberry cultivation."

These strawberries are sold under the brand name Daringbadi Strawberry (a well-known place in Odisha known as Kashmir), and the District Administration is supplying them with market access throughout the state.

Because of the frost-free extended winter period, the quality, aroma, and size of Kandhamal berries are superior to those from other parts of the country. Kandhamal's day and nighttime temperatures are ideal for berry quality. Through the convergence programme, the district administration has engaged various departments such as Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM), Horticulture, and Watershed Department.

Land assessment and bed preparation were completed through Watershed Department's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) schemes, and high-value crop inputs were provided through the OLM Department's Mission Shakti scheme. Drip irrigation was provided by the Horticulture Department under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana - Per Drop More Crop (PMKSY - PDMC) scheme, and mulching material was provided under the Mission for Intergated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) scheme.

Along with strawberry cultivation, the District Administration has devised a plan of action to pilot the cultivation of high-value crops such as dragon fruit, blueberry, and cherry fruits in order to increase the income of tribal families in Kandhamal District.

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