THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For flower merchants in the district, the pandemic has dampened their best season for business. Additionally, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s statement requesting people to stay home and use only local flowers during the festive period has added to their worries. Increasing Covid-19 cases in the city have hindered residents from venturing out to flower markets in Chalai and Palayam.According to Trivandrum Florist Association, wholesale flower merchants in the district earned around `30-`40 lakh during the Onam season before 2016. However, in the past four years, the sale has dipped to `5-`10 lakh. “Flowers merchants frame a year-long plan depending on the Onam sales. Employee bonuses and other investments depend on the same,” said S Sreekumar Nair, joint secretary.
Around 1,200 men and 500 women in the district depend on the business for their livelihood. “The sales have been pathetic this year. We are struggling to pay salaries,” said Sreekumar. Flowers sold in the district arrives from Coimbatore, Salem, Dindigul, Hosur and Madurai. “There are specific flowers for each festival and farming is done accordingly. However, the pandemic halted the farming process in March,” he said.
Currently, flowers like arali (nerium oleander), rose, mulla, lotus and pichi are available with the flower merchants in the district. “The actual sales begin on the first day of Atham. However, this year we have no hope. Also, we are unsure of the type and quantity of flowers that may arrive in the coming days. Sales haven’t taken place in the Chalai market ever since the triple lockdown was announced,” he said. Flowers aren’t arriving from Thovalai either, as the market has been shut down due to the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Kanyakumari district.
‘Will raise our concerns’
According to C Sasidharan Nair, secretary, Trivandrum Florist Association, flower merchants aren’t getting any support during the Covid-19 crisis and the chief minister’s statement will be a huge blow to the sector. “The CM has urged people to make ‘athapookkalam’ with flowers from their neighbourhood as the flowers from other regions may accelerate the spread of Covid-19. This will ruin our business. We will meet Minister Kadakampally Surendran to discuss our concerns,” he added.