Maharashtra: Anticipated Surge in Strawberry Prices as Reduced Cultivation Hits Mahabaleshwar

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Mahabaleshwar, 25th October 2023: The upcoming strawberry season, set to commence in November, is expected to see a spike in prices due to a decrease in cultivation area in the Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani hill stations of Satara.

Babasaheb Bhilare, President of the Strawberry Growers’ Association, revealed that the cultivation area for strawberries has been reduced to 2,200 to 2,500 hectares this year, compared to the usual 3,000 to 3,500 hectares in strawberry-growing villages. The primary cause for the reduced plantation is attributed to scanty rainfall in September, raising concerns about potentially higher prices for strawberries in the upcoming season.

Approximately 70% of strawberries produced in India originate from Mahabaleshwar, according to members of the growers’ association. The remaining supply comes from Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan.

Bhilare explained the typical distribution process, stating, “The early harvest of the fruit is usually sold in the local market, fetching good prices. Once the arrival increases, growers sell it commercially to companies. Many growers with high-quality fruit supply various fruit markets in the country, and some even engage in exports.”

Last year, the strawberry harvest faced severe setbacks due to unseasonal rain during October and November in Mahabaleshwar and surrounding areas. This resulted in a delayed arrival of the fruit in the Pune market, coupled with compromised quality.

A senior official from the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) expressed concern about the potential impact on prices, stating, “If the plantation is lesser this year, strawberries will likely sell at over Rs 300 per kg in November and December as the arrival remains limited in these months.”

In the Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, and Wai belt of Satara district, where around 3,500 to 4,000 farmers cultivate strawberries, some growers opted for reduced cultivation areas to avoid a repeat of last season’s challenges.

Growers emphasized the delicate nature of strawberry cultivation, with even light showers having a significant impact.


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