Lockdown blues: Flower business in Karnataka wilts, Rs 360-crore loss hits sector

Most weddings and big-ticket events are scheduled in summer, and floral designs are most sought after during celebrations. However, this year, the coronavirus killed this budding sector.
Flowers from a greenhouse in Doddaballapur being carried in a truck to be dumped as there is almost no demand for flowers after the COVID outbreak. (Photo | EPS)
Flowers from a greenhouse in Doddaballapur being carried in a truck to be dumped as there is almost no demand for flowers after the COVID outbreak. (Photo | EPS)

BENGALURU: COVID-19 has literally nipped flowers in the bud. More than 2,000 floriculturists in Bengaluru Rural have suffered huge losses — estimated to be Rs 360 crore — in the past three months. Summers are bloom time for flower growers.

Most weddings and big-ticket events are scheduled in summer, and floral designs are most sought after during celebrations. However, this year, the coronavirus killed this budding sector.

Farmers revealed that since March, there have been no takers for flowers. Weddings are not taking place because of the 50-guest rule.

Many festivals were also low-key, which meant cutting down on floral decorations.

“Flower yield on one acre of land fetches Rs 4-5 lakh, against an investment of Rs 2 lakh over a month. But with no takers, dejected farmers have been cutting and throwing their crop, while many ran tractors over flowers in full bloom, knowing they will not even get transportation costs for ferrying them to the markets. "

Srikanth Bolapalli, director, South India Floriculture Association, revealed that more than 1,000 floriculturists have shut shop and are not looking to make a comeback.

“Many have lost big money. Summer time is harvest season, and many pump in big money, often taking loans from banks because the returns are good. But this year, more than 4,000 marriage halls in the city were shut, and not a single wedding was held in the three-month period.

“Star hotels, too, were closed with no activity in banquet halls and lawns. There were no events in the entertainment industry, so flowers bloomed and rotted on farms,” said Bolapalli, adding that fast sellers like flowers, roses, chrysanthemums, carnations, and gerberas, grown over 2,500 acres, had no takers.

“Forget profits, even the cost of land tilling and fertilizers could not be recouped,” said Manjushree, a grower from Doddaballapur.

South India’s Floriculture Association apprised DyCM Ashwath Narayan and Horticulture Minister Narayan Gowda that most farmers had lost investment, and the government should at least waive their power bills.

“The two ministers readily pledged support to us, but nothing has come our way so far,” said Bolapalli.

“The onus is on the government to bail us out. Power bills are high, as a greenhouse needs electricity round the clock,” said Manjushree.

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The New Indian Express
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