Floriculturists in the cities of Karnataka are facing losses due to Coronavirus followed by the nationwide lockdown; dumping the flowers instead of selling them.
By Apoorva GS
Shimoga: Tejesh, a florist in Shimoga, has resorted to going from door to door, giving away his expensive harvest of flowers for free. He said he loves what he grows and cannot bear to throw them away. “So every day, I distribute these flowers to people who can use them for their idols at home,” he said.
Flowers are no more found in their usual places after being plucked, like the church, temples, hotels, etc. Everything from marigold to lilies to roses is being dumped by their owners due to a lack of demand resulting from the complete shutdown of the nation.
The situation is so bad that, they are unable to take care of their farms, some floriculturists have let cattle to feed on their flowers.
“I grow roses, carnation, gerbera in my land of 35 acres. Due to this lockdown, everything is going to waste. I have to spend about Rs 35 lakhs to save the plant. If I do not pluck the flowers daily, I will have to lose the whole plant,” said Srikanth, a floriculturist from Dodballapur. So he plucks the flowers only to throw them in the garbage every day.
Srikanth has been in the flower business for the past 30 years now. He has a family of four and his wife and mother also help him in the business.
Flower markets all over the country are being affected by the nationwide lockdown implemented by the government to contain the spread of Coronavirus. This has affected thousands of floriculturists and the floriculture industry as a whole.
“We had no idea about this lockdown. Everything was so sudden that I had to bear a hugeloss.I have stopped growing flowers now because there’s nobody to buy them,” Meghana. M, a trader and floriculturist said.“I have started growing vegetables as it falls under the essential items list and I can earn some money out of it until all of this gets over,” she added.
Karnataka is one of the major flower growing states from where traders supply flowers to all parts of the country. It is the leader in floriculture, accounting for 75 per cent of India’s total flower production. Over 18,000 hectares in Karnataka is devoted to flower cultivation.The state also has the country’s first and only flower auction centre. Karnataka has been into floriculture for over 300 years now.
Aanjaneya K.N, another floriculturist from Davangere said, “I started floriculture very recently and my first yield of marigold came by the end of March. Unfortunately, I did not even harvest them because I had to bear the labour cost for those flowers which would go unsold.”
The government has relaxed the lockdown norms and paved a way for the movement of essential items like medicines, vegetables, fruits and groceries. Flowers don’t come under the essential items, leaving the floriculturists with no option but to destroy these flowers and dump them.
Dushyant Kumar, professor at the University of Agriculture and Horticulture Sciences said, “Flowers are not only used for decoration purposes but also in industries to extract different types of oils and chemicals. One way to deal with this huge loss is the floriculturists to supply their produce to these industries with the help of the government. They can export these flowers instead when these flowers are in their initial stage of growth so that these industries can store these flowers and save them from rotting at least for a period of 15 days.”
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research also released a document suggesting measures to the floriculturists in view of COVID-19 pandemic.