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Bloom to bust: Flower growers lose Rs 100 crore in a month

As you go around Doddaballapur, you see farms bursting with colourful blooms. But this is not bringing a smile to the flower farmers.

Published: 19th April 2020 06:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th April 2020 06:11 AM   |  A+A-

Workers clear out plants from a polyhouse at a farm in Doddaballapur near Bengaluru. Growers are not able to find any takers for their flowers with markets closed following the nationwide lockdown | Shriram BN

Express News Service

TUBAGERE (DODDABALLAPUR): As you go around Doddaballapur, you see farms bursting with colourful blooms. But this is not bringing a smile to the flower farmers. Despite April and May being the peak season for flowers, growers are finding no takers due to the strict nationwide containment measures amid the coronavirus pandemic. Every day, desperate farmers are plucking around 60 lakh flowers and throwing them away.

According to Srikanth Bollapally, Director, South India Floriculture Association, “Since there has been no business for the past one month, we are estimating a loss of at least Rs 100 crore.”  Unlike vegetables and fruits, flowers are not considered as essential commodities. With the lockdown in place, no wedding or big events are held where flowers are used.  Over 80 per cent  flowers in Karnataka are grown in Bengaluru Rural district including places like Doddaballapur, Nelamangala, Anekal and Devanahalli as well as some parts of Tumakuru, Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts.

In Doddaballapur taluk, hundreds of farmers grow decorative flowers like Gerbera, roses and carnation which are mainly cultivated in polyhouses. Narasegowda, who has been growing Gerbera in his one-acre polyhouse for the last one and half years, has invested Rs 45 lakh. “I have six workers and have to pay them. With no sale of flowers, how can I pay them?’’ he asked. His family consists of 10 members.  Gowda says, “The government is giving rice and wheat, but what about other items? Fortunately, we have three cows, and we are depending on this revenue. We get Rs 6,500 every fortnight from selling milk.’’ 

For last one month, they pluck flowers, dump them

Dr U Chandrashekar, medical practitioner from Telangana, moved to Kavalahalli in Doddaballapur two years back. He too grows Gerbera. “I got Gerbera plants from Pune by paying Rs 35 per plant and have planted 25,000. They started giving flowers after 70 days. According to him, one has to invest Rs 50 lakh per polyhouse of one acre and they need over Rs 1 lakh every month to maintain it, including water and electricity bills. Every day, they get some 3,000 flowers which are sent to Bengaluru. But for the last one month, with no market, they are plucking flowers and dumping them. We have to pluck the flowers as otherwise the stress of flowers will damage the plant itself,’’ he said.

Kiran, who works as a manager at a polyhouse, said carnation plants give flowers once in four months and the life span of these plants is one and half year. “We had planted in June last year, by October/November, we got the flowers and now in April/May, the second set of flowers have bloomed. Two crops are ideal to ensure the quality of flowers. Now that we cannot sell these flowers, what’s the use of maintaining these plants? So we are plucking them,” he said. “We have invested Rs 8.2 lakh on 82,000 plants,” he added. Gerbera which is sold for Rs 5 during the non-peak season, sells for Rs 8 to Rs 10 in  April and May. But this year, growers are not getting even the minimum price.

A worker waters the flowers in a polyhouse in Doddaballapura on Saturday | shriram bn 

There are farmers like Prakash who have shifted from growing vegetables to flowers. “I have opted for flowers because we get daily income and the labour cost is high for vegetables. I have grown Sevanthige (chrysanthemum) and button roses. I would get Rs 40,000 every week by selling 1,000 kg of Sevanthige and Rs 1,500 per day by selling 30 kg of roses. But now we cannot even go to Doddaballapur, police sends us back,’’ he said. He too is depending on his two cows for his livelihood now . “I cannot even feed these flowers or plants to the cows as we had sprayed fertilizers on the plants,’’ he said.

“Govt should intervene’
Srikanth Bollapally, Director, South India  Floriculture Association, said there are over 2,500 growers in Karnataka, most of them in Bengaluru Rural district. Each farmer gets Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh by selling flowers every month. “Flowers grown here are sent to to Dubai and Singapore too. On an aver-age, farmers are throwing away at least 60 lakh flowers.  The state gover-nment should intervene,” he said.



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