Pottangi: Villagers in Kotia panchayat under Pottangi block of Koraput district have turned to strawberry cultivation to find sweet returns for their home and hearth, said sources.
The villagers of Doliamba under the panchayat have taken up the farming of the juicy fruit under the intervention of the district administration of Koraput.
Strawberry cultivation in Kotia panchayat assumes significance under amidst increasing threat of incursions by Andhra Pradesh officials in the panchayat.
The neighbouring state is trying to encroach upon Kotia panchayat by offering various sops and through implementation of developmental projects.
At this juncture, strawberry cultivation has rekindled hopes among the villagers to live a life of dignity and fulfillment.
The district administration too hopes that this cultivation done in organic method will make them self-reliant by increasing their profits manifold and in generating jobs for the villagers in coming days.
The villagers too have extended their cooperation to the administration to make the farming successful in the panchayat.
Reports said the district administration is implementing various schemes in Kotia panchayat bordering Andhra Pradesh to help the villagers earn a livelihood for a better living without any dependence on the neighbouring state.
Directed by Collector Abadal M Akhtar, the integrated tribal development agency (ITDA) has launched the cultivation in the panchayat. The cultivation is being done purely on organic method. The ITDA officials first conducted a gram sabha at Doliamba.
A team of officials and strawberry farmers visited the area and discussed with the local residents about the commercial feasibility of strawberry cultivation.
As the farming is new to the area, the district arranged field visits for the locals, organised shows on documentaries, prepared information brochure and provided all help for drip irrigation in the area.
“At the outset, strawberry saplings were brought from Pune and planted on five acre of land. The fruits have been harvested and efforts are being made to sell them outside at proper price,” Kashi Prasad Nayak, district project coordinator of ITDA said.
He said Rs 35 lakh has been spent on the cultivation of strawberry which sells at Rs 400-500 per kg in the market. Talks are on with various wholesalers to sell the fruit at Rs 250 per kg so that the farmers will get the right price for their produce.
Meanwhile, a team of Andhra officials visited Fatusineri village in Kotia panchayat Wednesday and held talks with the villagers on marketing of harvested turmeric and tamarind of the villagers.
The team comprising additional project director of DRDA Y Satya, Salur block APM Jayamma and CC Nirmala assured the villagers to ensure proper price of their produce in Andhra market.