Strawberry lovers will have to wait longer to relish the fruit as unseasonal rain has affected its production and quality.
Sanjay Pansare, a fruit trader at APMC market, said, “The quality of strawberries this year is quite bad. They have a very short shelf life. They are getting spoilt easily because Mahabaleshwar received heavy unseasonal rain.” Traders said the rain damaged the crop, delaying the harvest by 15 days.
Seema Bhillare, a strawberry farmer from Mahabaleshwar, said the unexpected rain spoiled most of the crops even before they started flowering: “The produce is first sold in the local market and whatever remains is sent to the APMC market.” Farmers have complained that the rain has reduced the daily production from 40 kg to 50 kg to around 20 kg to 25 kg. Mr. Pansare said, “Usually, 500g of strawberry fetches around ₹250 to ₹300, but now the going price is just ₹150 to ₹200. Owing to the poor quality of strawberries, the number of crates have dropped.”
Earlier, 2,000 crates would reach the market, with 20 boxes in each create, weighing a total of 10 kg. Now, barely 25 crates are up for sale.
According to traders, only juice shop owners are buying the fruit now. On most days, farmers are asked not to send crates because of the poor quality of strawberries.
Relentless unseasonal rainfall across central India has damaged one-third of Maharashtra’s cultivated land, sending onion prices up by 25% over four days after stagnant water damaged crops and made harvests impossible. The incessant downpour in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Telangana since October caused widespread damage high-value horticulture crops such as grapes, pomegranates and vegetables.
[ Rs100 = €1.30 ]