Strawberry farms here offer a unique experience for tourists

Far away from the unsettling cacophony of urban life, strawberry farms at Lambasingi offer a perfect retreat for those who like to get nestled in the lap of nature.

Though there are a few strawberry growers in the hill station at the moment, they do mention that the produce has become a major attraction for the tourists who trickle in to be amid the plant runners and engage in a plethora of farming activities.

In addition, the facility of picking and packing is another feature that prompts tourists to head to such farms, carrying a basket and making the most of the experience that connects them with nature.

Currently, there are four to five strawberry cultivators at Lammasingi. As the season of strawberry stretches till March end, strawberry growers hope that tourist arrivals scale up in the following weeks. "With the Covid-19 pandemic playing havoc for the past two years, there is still a ray of hope that the business would pick up in the coming days," says Kasireddy Venkata Krishna, a strawberry cultivator.

For the past four years, he, along with his brother, has been growing strawberries at Andhra Strawberry Farm in Lammasingi on three acres. Though Visakhapatnam is the main market, the demand for the fruit has seen a significant jump in Vijayawada, Kakinada, Tirupati and Rajamahendravaram as well.

Though the tourist footfall has picked up over the years, strawberry cultivators in Lammasingi, Chintapalli mandal of Visakhapatnam district, mention that the region has the potential to be a large producer of strawberries of diverse varieties and that there is a need to facilitate an ecosystem to come up with value-added products such as squashes, jams and jellies. "For this to become a reality, the government should make sure that there is an infrastructure in place, including a cold storage to minimise the loss for the cultivators," they opine.

Meanwhile, tourism officials notice a quantum jump in the consumption pattern of strawberries. "Given the health benefits of the fruit, there is certainly a rise in the consumption pattern not just in and around Visakhapatnam but also in other cities too. By increasing the production in the region, we can tap large retailers in future," shares S Appala Naidu, Tourism Manager, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, Lammasingi, with The Hans India.

On weekdays, strawberry farms here attract 4,000 to 5,000 tourists. "But during weekends, the count will go up to 20,000. There is a need to meet the growing demand of the consumers by cultivating large quantities of strawberries," adds Appala Naidu.

While strawberry cultivators hope for an ecosystem to tap the potential in Lammasingi, known as the 'Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh' for recording single digit temperatures, tourism officials emphasise on increasing the yields to cater to the increasing demand of the fruit both among the tourists and retailers across cities.

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