Floriculturists’ prospects shrivel up

They allow rose, marigold and chrysanthemum to go to seed as there are no buyers for flowers post-demonetisation

It is gloom amid the blossoms. Acres and acres of rose, marigold and chrysanthemum fields at Sajjanpally village are being allowed to go to seed by farmers as prices have crashed and there are no buyers for flowers post-demonetisation.
Standing in his field of 0.75 acres of chrysanthemums in full blossom, Bhupal Reddy says: “There is no point in harvesting them. I will have to pay Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 per worker per day who can pluck 15 kilos a day. At the end of the day, I am able to sell one quintal of flowers for Rs. 500. It is a total loss for me, so I have decided not to invest more.” The typical reddish hue acquired by yellow chrysanthemums before they wilt and dry is visible as people walk on the plants.
A few metres away is the field of Ravinder Reddy who expected his bumper harvest of chrysanthemums, marigolds and chikkudkayi (kidney beans) to bring in the money right up to Sankranti. “I have invested Rs. 50,000 getting the saplings from Rajahmundry, but now I am not even going to get back the money that I invested on these chrysanthemums. Two days ago, I took two bags of kidney beans (each bag contains 70 kilos) to the Gudimalkapur market and I had to dump them as the trader offered me Rs. 100 per bag,” says Ravinder Reddy.
At Keesaram, K. Veeraiah says: “I would have got regular income till Sivratri with this crop of kidney beans, but I have allowed cattle to graze after I got Rs. 3 per kilo.”
The gloom is not just limited to the village of blooming flowers and wilting plants, across many farmlands, a similar story keeps repeating as there are no buyers for vegetables and flowers due to shortage of small denomination currency. The chrysanthemum flowers are timed with the festive season beginning with Bathukamma and culminating in Sankranti but this calculation has been belied this year. “Even people performing Ayyappa puja are not buying flowers in large quantities,” says Chandrasekhar Reddy.
Besides demonetisation, the news about a bumper crop has sent prices crashing. “There is a lot of uncertainty in the market. The big traders are deciding the prices and it is not working to our advantage. The prices have not crashed but when we take the crop to the market, they are able to dictate low prices. They should be taking only 4 per cent commission, but are taking 10 per cent,” says Srisailam, a farmer from Keesaram bringing his bitter gourd bag to the Gudimalkapur market.
In contrast to the gloom in the farmland, there is marginal difference to the price line in Monda market from the high prices a few months ago.