PUDUKKOTAI: On any other day, Kamaraj would have woken up early and headed to his field to supervise plucking of flowers. Over the last fortnight, this routine was disrupted and he has been whiling away time worrying about wilting flowers and what the future has in store.
Not just Kamaraj, most of the floriculturists in Pudukkottai district are in a similar condition. While vegetables find their way to the markets, flowers had no takers.
"All of us are facing huge losses as flowers are wilting. Vegetables and fruits can be sold at a lower price. We were just coming out of the destruction caused by Gaja cyclone, and now we have been dealt a bigger blow, lamented Kamaraj.
Other floriculturists in Pudukkottai agree. It is not uncommon now to see cattle feeding on unplucked flowers.
"What will we do? It is a waste to pay people to pluck the flowers when it isn't going to be sold. We were expecting a good yield this year, it’s one of our first set of crops after Gaja, and its a big disappointment," said Balu, a floriculturist in Alangudi.
These farmers say that even if the lockdown is lifted, the harvest would be wasted, as temple festivals, which usually take place during April-May, won’t take place now. Small farmers earn up to Rs 300 per day (after paying labour), and larger farmers earn anywhere between Rs 1000-2000 (after paying labour) in a day.
Most of the floriculture in Pudukkottai happens in areas like Keeramangalam, Vadakadu, Alangudi etc. The produce is sent to Pudukkottai city, Tiruchy and Ramnad.
Farmers are demanding a scent factory to be set up in Pudukkottai to prevent further losses in such events in the future.
Officials say that Pudukkottai is isn’t facing big losses.
"We don't have that big a yield to set up a factory. We are planning to send the yield, if large enough of jasmine and roses to the Dindigul perfume factory. For that, we are teaching farmers to prune their crops. By pruning, they will be able to postpone the yield and can be used after the market stabilises,” said Arunachalam, DD Horticulture, Pudukkottai.