Posted in Notebook

From Northern Europe to United States, it has traveled now to India’s remote villages of Meghalaya – the strawberries. The berry, which is a symbol of purity and sensuality, fertility and abundance, humility and modesty, has made an overwhelming impact in the lives of hundreds of rural people in Ri-Bhoi.       Saidul Khan finds out more…..

About four years ago Increase Kharbani, a mother of four children living in the small hamlet of Sohliya village in Ri-Bhoi district had to live a hard life. But today, she has a reason to smile.
Like Kharbani there are many other women in Sohliya village who has seen a complete life changing experience. Thanks to strawberries. Most of the villagers are doing the cultivation in ½ acre to 3 acres of land and annually they manage to get up to Rs. 25,000-50,000 in an average depending on its acre of production and yields.
These people have no substitute for hard work; they keep themselves engage in striving for more. The income has added a substantial upliftment for the rural people.
It was inspiring to learn how Bethel, without her husband was bringing up her two children. These ladies have made a difference in our society with sheer dint of hard work and perseveration.
For Kharbani and Yosilda Dkhar, the smile comes with hard work. This delicate heart-shaped berry which connotes purity, passion and healing, gave a new meaning for Kharbani and Dkhar.
Kharbani expresses her joy in Khasi, “I am very happy to start strawberry cultivation. It does not take much hard-work to grow the plant and the yield is very high and we are getting good returns. Few years back my economic condition was not at all good. Today my children’s go to school”. Dkhar adds in the same tone “Three years back I started the plantation.  We have really benefited from the strawberry cultivation”.
Being a witness to successful strawberry cultivation which has changed lives of many farmers, Delbiful Dkhar started the cultivation recently and is happy with the yields.
He said, “I have started strawberry cultivation recently, after seeing our neighbours are getting a high return with less hard-work involved to bring up the plant. I have got the yields and have sold it to the market. I am happy!” There are more than 350 cultivators in the Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya, where the people’s socio-economic condition has been uplifted. The Horticulture department has extended all its assistance  to encourage the cultivation. It was started on an experimental basis in 1998.
O. Lyngkhoi, General Secretary Ri-Bhoi Strawberry Growers Association is a happy man, being also a planter himself and a village headman, he expresses:”Strawberries has changed the lives of the rural people”.
Now the picturesque Meghalaya has become the land of strawberries with the third largest producer of strawberries in the country after Maharashtra and Punjab.  Strawberries produced from Ri-Bhoi are being sold at various markets across the country. It is also being exported to Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and various other countries.

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