Strawberry: A seasonal fruit in high demand
Strawberry fruits are popular around the globe. In Asian countries, it is referred to as the “queen of fruits” because of its health benefits. In Nigeria, demands for the seasonal fruit is increasing and its farming is simple, according to Muhammad Jamilu, a strawberry farmer and trader in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Jamilu, who said he had been farming and trading in strawberry and other fruits for 13 years now, explained the stages of planting, harvesting and marketing of the produce.
Jamilu said: “The first stage is for a farmer to start from the nursery bed where you prepare and plant your seed around the month of August so that the seed will grow branches that would be used as runners for transplant.
“There are two methods of planting strawberry seed. The first is the one that involves planting the runners in the nursery, which is the branch of the strawberry plant. The second is the direct seed plantation where you plant the seed directly in the farm and wait for three weeks for it to germinate. In this method, the farmer must wait for up to four months to allow the strawberry grow at nursery and produce the runners for the transplant in the farm. In the direct method, sometimes, the plants grow strawberry fruit before transplanting. But currently many farmers prefer the runner’s method.
“While making the nursery, the next thing is to mix the sand with manure and plant your runners at the selected area to sow the seed. I plant my runners in a designated polythene bags and arrange them where I can water the nursery with ease. I water the nursery three times a week. And whenever I sow one runner, some may reproduce more branches depending on how I prepare them. The nursery takes at least three weeks to mature before the transplant.”
Jamilu said the second stage is the transplant after the farmer must have prepared the farm. He said after mixing the sand with manure, the farmer will make ridges in a way that water will always be at the edge of it.
He said the process of transplanting of strawberry requires the farmer to dig holes based on the sizes of the plants dislodged from the nursery and arrange them in a sequential order by providing a gap of about one and half feet from each other.
“After the transplanting, the next thing, he said, is the maintenance of the farm by ensuring that grasses are not allowed to grow. The third stage is for the farmer to apply the chemical fertiliser. You need to apply little of NPK 15-15 at the edge of the plant. When the strawberry starts producing fruits, you apply ashes at the edges of the plant; the idea is to protect the fruits from insects and also add sweetness to the strawberry as well as helps in producing big size fruits.
“You can also see that I used polythene bags to cover the edges of the plants; that is to protect the fruits from mud, water and also to prevent the fruits from dirt because if mud or water touches the fruits it may spoil it or affect the growth of the fruits.
“You know, strawberry is purely a dry season crop except for the green farming system, and that is why I told you that we make ridges in a surface irrigation style where you can
Strawberry at its nursery stage
Ibrahim Abdullahi sells fruits and vegetables in Jos