Imphal: Farmers in the Northeast are turning towards crops that promise a high income and have high demand, and 36-year-old Takhellambam Zico, is one such farmer.
Zico, a resident of Kongba Nongthombam Leikai in Imphal East district, started cultivating strawberries five years ago at his farm in Naharup Pangong Sangma Leitambi under the name of ‘MSNK Nursery’.
Zico is one of the first strawberry farmers in the state. He started with 10,000 saplings, and today, his 4-acre farm is home to over 56,000 strawberry plants. Zico, a father of two, aims to plant at least 1 lakh strawberry saplings and expand his fruit business beyond the state.
“Since I wasn’t sure about the climatic condition for strawberry farming in our state, I started with a tissue culture plant with the help of one of the farms from Pune,” said Zico.
According to Zico, each plant harvests around one and a half kg of strawberry every year. He currently sells strawberries at Rs 600 per kg.
After experiencing a good yield, he decided to help other farmers. Thanks to Zico, strawberries are gaining popularity in the state with each passing day. The strawberry plantation process starts in September. By mid-November, the fruit is ready for harvest.
“From January till June, we harvest the fruit every day,” Zico told EastMojo. At present, Zico employs 12 persons as full-time workers, including two families as caretakers. He pays the families about Rs 12,000 per month.
R Ningthoujam, a former gardener who now works at Zico’s farm. Ningthoujam says he is not only earning his livelihood here but also gaining the knowledge to become a trainer and help other farmers reap rich rewards.