VIJAYAWADA: K Ganapathi Rao is a wholesaler in the Rajiv Gandhi Flower Market, where business is always briskly conducted, and cash is the currency. He’s been in the business for well over four decades and has seen ups and downs.“Nothing prepared me for demonetization. We haven’t recovered from the shock yet,” he says when the New Indian Express interrupted his sales on the day after the demonetisation anniversary.
Ganapathi Rao lost more than 50 per cent of his business and he borrowed Rs 5 lakh to tide over the crisis. His business is still limping back to normal and he has to pay interest on the loan. A year ago, the shock withdrawal of D500 and D2000 bank notes had the most immediate impact on markets like this, with traders caught cold with perishable inventory on hand. Unsold flowers were dumped on the roads leading to Vijayawada by the truckload.
Bigger traders like Ganapathi Rao took the brunt of the impact, for they had to continue paying rent to the municipal corporation. Small traders who rent a 5 ft by 5 ft space on the floor of the market had it a bit easier, their rent being nominal.
Still, small merchants K Suri Babu and P Naidu said their business has not recoverd yet. “Earlier, I used to do business of D15,000 if I worked from 5 a.m to 10 p.m,,” says Suri Babu. “Now I’m down to D10,000.”
Overall, demonetisation’s impact on the flower business in Andhra Pradesh has been deep. As P Naidu explains, the market is procuring only 550 tonnes per day including roses, chrysanthemums, lillies and jasmine. The demand before demonetisation was around 800 tonnes.
Shaik Jani, president of the Rajiv Gandhi Wholesale Flower Merchants Association, puts it in perspective. “Prices of flowers are highly volatile. De-mon killed demand because everyone was hoarding small notes. Hundreds of orders were cancelled. Vendors incurred debts up to D5 lakh and are still paying interest to moneylanders.