Do you associate strawberries with India? I think of Wimbledon, the Beatles (remember Strawberry Fields Forever ? ), Strawberry Woman- from the musical Porgy and Bess, all in all not very Indian connections. It a bit of a shock this year to find every corner stand on the roads throughout Pune covered with mounds of huge strawberries for sale.
Maharashtra is slowly becoming the strawberry centre of the sub continent. The temperate climate of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani has always been ideal for strawberry cultivation and now areas under this crop have extended to other areas of Satara like Koregaon, Patan and Jawali as well as around Pune and Nasik.
There is an active Strawberry Growers Association and they have been instrumental in organising a STRAWBERRY FAIR in Pune this weekend.
Unfortunately the fair isnt exactly what you would expect! There were exactly 2
farmers as against the 300 promised . Two pathetic varieties were available between
which the "farmers" could not distinguish. There were about 50 packets of strawberries
on sale at a rate higher than one can get in the market.
It was all very disappointing indeed.
None of the many varietes now growing in India were on show.
Neither the Californian Solana, Torrey and Toiga nor the Olympus,
Hood & Shuksan which have a good red colour and
are excellent for ice cream making and jams,
least of all the Beauty, Cardinal, Midway, Midland and
Redchief varieties which are good for processing into juices.
Other kinds which would have been nice to see and taste
are the Srinagar or Bangalore varieties
(developed in India) and the ones that do
well in hilly areas like Royal Sovereign and Dilpasand.
Oh well the report was just another bit of PR for an
organisation badly run and probably wasting the
money of its members.