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Poor quality saplings blight strawberry farmers’ hopes

Though a farmer’s life is one filled with uncertainties, they never give up hope of harvesting a bumper crop.

Published: 28th December 2021 06:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th December 2021 06:49 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Though a farmer’s life is one filled with uncertainties, they never give up hope of harvesting a bumper crop. However, the strawberry farmers of Kanthalloor got all their hopes trampled upon when they couldn’t even plant the crop due to the negligence of the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK). The reason? They were provided with dead and decaying strawberry saplings. 

“Unlike in the previous years, when we sourced saplings from outside the state or propagated new ones using the old stock plant, this year VFPCK told us that they would supply the baby plants. So, all of us numbering around 25 farmers booked the saplings by paying Rs 20 per plant,” said Shelju Subramanium, a farmer at Kanthalloor. 

According to him, every other farmer placed orders for saplings ranging from 700 to 5,000. “When the saplings got delivered, we were aghast to see dead and dying plants. Of the 20,000 saplings, the agency brought in for the farmers maybe around 700 could be planted,” he said. The farmers have pegged their losses including the sum incurred to prepare the land for cultivation to above Rs 50 lakh. 

“So, this season, strawberries from Kanthalloor will not reach the market. We have not only suffered a huge loss in terms of the money spent and also the preparation of the land, but also the possible profit we could have bagged through sales,” he added. “We have bought saplings from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. And we got fresh and live saplings even though they came in from a far off place,” said the farmer.

According to Shelju, these saplings from Shimla were transported in an AC truck. “VFPCK transported the saplings in a closed vehicle that had no air circulation and was very stifling,” he said. After the farmers made a complaint with the panchayat president and the Krishi Bhavan, they came over to the fields to survey the damage.

“They came in and assured us that we will be compensated or the saplings will be replaced. But that was two months back,” said Shelju. Meanwhile, the Kanthalloor panchayat president and the agriculture officer couldn’t be contacted even after repeated attempts.



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