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Kerala floods dampen Onam flower sales
Lush green fields with flowers everywhere is a sight for sore eyes. However, the particular imagery has failed to enliven hopes among flower growers, for the devastating floods in Kerala have dampened their sale for the upcoming Onam festivities this year.
An array of flowers used to make colourful ‘pookalams’ in households during Onam, has now been left to wither away in the fields of Krishnagiri, a major producer in TN and other flower growing pockets in Coimbatore.
Farmers and flower traders say that they have incurred a heavy loss due to a low-key Onam in the flood-ravaged Kerala. In Krishnagiri’s Hosur taluk alone, about 3,000 acres are under open field cultivation and 500 acres are under greenhouse production. More than 5,000 farmers, who had grown flowers eyeing an Onam harvest, have met with losses running into several lakhs.
Besides flower exports to Kerala, exports to the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra are also affected due to heavy rainfall, lamented flower growers in Coimbatore.The decline in the export has affected the flower growers in Coimbatore, where flowers like ‘kolikondai poo’ (cockscomb flower), tuber rose, marigold and jasmine are grown in vast swathes of land.
“Not less than 16 varieties of flowers are cropped by hundreds of farmers for Onam. Normally around 200 tonne of flowers, mainly chrysanthemums, marigold and a variety of roses, would be sent daily for about a fortnight to Kerala. Exports remain grim for this year as there are nil orders,” said Bala Siva Prasad, president of Hosur Small Farmers Association. “I was hoping for a good harvest as the cockscomb flower and tuber rose raised in my one acre land. However, poor demand has slumped prices drastically as traders are buying cockscomb for Rs 40 per kg (normally sold at Rs 100) and tuber rose for Rs 150 (normally sold at Rs 250),” said R Moorthy, a farmer from Karamadai.
Flower merchants at the Poo Market in Coimbatore claim to have incurred loss of over 25 crore this season due to poor demand.
“We used to send about 50 tonne of flowers regularly to Kerala. Local demand would also be high as many institutions and associations would buy flowers in large quantity to make ‘poo kolams.’
However, the sales have come to a standstill as Kerala is still struggling from the impact of flood,” said M Swamythangam, joint secretary of Coimbatore District Flower Merchants Association.
Now, only a small quantity of flowers are being sent to Kerala, which are meant for paying homage to those who were killed in the flood. Flower growers and merchants are now hoping for recovery during the ‘Ayudha Puja’ celebrations.