An out-of-the-box project offered by Horticultural Products Development Corporation (Horticorp) in Munnar is now wooing tourists to the hill station after a lull induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state-run Horticorp produces and markets vegetables and fruits at its 4.5 acres of land with a view to expand its marketing arena.
In Munnar, Horticorp cultivates various kinds of organic vegetables and fruits but the focus is on strawberry cultivation. And the coolest thing is that you can pick and pack your strawberry for yourself, offering an enlightening experience.
Though strawberry production was high in 2020, Horticorp was at a loss as sales dipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Horticorp's primary customers were domestic tourists and naturally, there was a fall in the sales of cultivated fruits and vegetables due to the lockdown.
But sales are gradually picking up with many tourists flocking to Munnar.
The farm is located in Munnar-Silent Valley Road and most of the customers are tourists who travel to Meesapulimala and nearby places, unlike regular Munnar visitors.
A kilogram of Strawberries would cost you Rs 400.
“A strawberry processing plant is attached to the park and plans are on to produce value-added products like Strawberry Preserves. Though we have other varieties of fruits and vegetables cultivated here, our main focus is strawberry,” says Georgekutty, District Manager of Horticorp in Munnar.
Around 70-80 tourists visit the farm every day and numbers go up to 100 during weekends and holidays.
“Visitors from across the State come here to get fresh strawberries. We are also trying to promote this in Munnar town to attract more tourists,” says Georgekutty Michael.
With the rainy season on the way, strawberry cultivation will be halted by May. After that, the focus will be on cultivating vegetables suitable for the season.
Horticorp has also cultivated cabbage and potatoes during this season. Other than strawberry, the park also cultivates sweet corn, carrot, radish, passion fruit, mosambi (sweet lemon) and avocado.
The vegetables and fruits procured are sold through more than 500 outlets across the State.
Horticorp is now trying to tap the potential of the organic farm and is trying various initiatives to bring in more tourists. The processing plant is in the final stages and will start producing strawberry preserves in a month once it clears all tests.