Straw­berry: A sea­sonal fruit in high de­mand

Daily Trust - - FEATURE - From Has­san Ibrahim, Jos

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

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