When people think about starting a farming business, they mostly think about dairy farming, growing rice, wheat, and other such large-scale farming operations. However, with the growth of organic food and the urban farming movement, strawberry farming is becoming a popular option for those looking to get into agriculture. Strawberries are a great cash crop to grow and can be profitable if done correctly. There are many things to take into account when planting a strawberry field, such as the variety of strawberries you choose to plant, the amount of acreage you have, and your overall strategy for marketing your strawberries. In this article, we have given an overview of the profitability of strawberry farming.
But before jumping to profit estimates, let’s first take a look at the farming process :
Step 1 Ploughing the fields – The first step of cultivating any crop is to plough the soil. The prime purpose behind ploughing the soil is to bring the nutrients present in the deeper levels of soil to the surface.
Step 2 Preparing the beds – This step involves turning over the soil up to a particular depth, adding 2 – 4 inches of compost, and preparing the beds.
Step 3 Install drip irrigation system – After the beds are prepared, a network of dripping pipes is spread across the field. These pipes are attached to a faucet and a water tank.
Step 4 Planting – In the next step, the strawberry plants prepared in a nursery are planted into the soil.
Step 5 Mulching – Mulching sheets are spread around the plants to protect them from moisture, heat, and cold.
Step 6 Harvest – This is the last step in the farming process. After the fruits are 50% – 70% ripe, they are harvested and packed.
To provide you some insights on the profitability and cost of strawberry farming, we talked to a few farmers, and here’s what they said –
The average cost
We talked to Nikhil Tyagi who has a strawberry farm in Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh, and runs his business under the name ‘Ty Farms’. He mentions that strawberry farming requires the installation of a drip irrigation system that costs around Rs.1 lac – Rs.1.5 lac for an acre. Apart from that, a mulching paper sheet is required to cover the soil which costs nearly Rs.20,000 – Rs.25,000 for an acre.
He also told us that in the areas with frost conditions during cold weather, crop covers are needed to protect the plants from frosting. These crop covers can cost anywhere between Rs.35,000 – Rs.50,000. In addition to these, equipment like rest fencing and bird nets are needed that depends on the area of land under cultivation.
Income from strawberry farming
Strawberry farming is a lucrative business, with farmers yielding an average sales of nearly Rs. 4 lac to Rs. 5 lac per acre. The actual numbers may differ taking into account the variations in region, climatic conditions, and other factors.
Diversification is the key
Strawberry has a very short season and can be found in the local markets for only 2-3 months of the year. In a single season, around 100 tons of strawberries can be grown on 10 acres of land. Strawberry farming can provide a consistent and reliable income stream if the farmers plan for value addition and product diversification.
While fully ripe strawberries are packed and sent to markets immediately, it is imperative to process and preserve the remaining produce. The succulent, sweet fruit despite being in for a short season, stays on the shelves of supermarkets around the year in the form of strawberry crush, syrup, and jam.
In India, strawberries are mostly grown in Mahabaleshwar, West Bengal, Nainital, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Dehradun. The Satara districts of Mahabaleshwar account for nearly 80% – 85% of the country’s strawberry production. Strawberries can be grown in other areas as well with the use of the hydroponic method of farming. With a little bit of homework and some planning, you can make a healthy profit from your strawberry crop.