Members of the Nilgiris District Small Flower Growers Association took to the streets here on Monday.
Led by association president N.Viswanathan, the floriculturists staged a demonstration in front of the horticulture complex and took out a procession to the Collectorate.
It was to focus attention on the problems confronting floriculture in the district and register their protest against observations relating to the current status of activity reportedly made recently by Joint Director of Horticulture C.Israel.
In a memorandum submitted to the Collector, Mr.Vishwanathan pointed out that about five years ago the economy of the farmers who were cultivating tea and vegetables had been affected.
Since the then government had promoted floriculture as an alternative and even organised training programmes, they had switched over to flower cultivation. Owing to the investment being more bank loans had been obtained.
The returns, which were remunerative during the first year, subsequently dropped. The contributory factors included the increase in the cost of inputs and wages, damages caused to green houses by natural calamities, and poor quality planting materials.
Claiming that the industry was ailing, he said that the farmers were finding it difficult to repay bank loans. Pointing out that the intervention of the State and Central Governments was being sought to get their bank loans waived, he alleged that Mr.Israel had not presented a complete picture.
Meanwhile, Mr.Israel pointed out that like in any other agricultural or horticultural activity there would be price fluctuation even in floriculture.
Stating that the floriculturists should be prepared, he contended that many of the floriculturists were doing well.
He said that many of the flower growers had got bank loans in excess of their requirement and regretted that since the number of defaulters was rising the banks were reluctant to give fresh loans. This was hampering the development of the industry. Some had to repay as much as Rs. 9 lakh. “At least the subsidy component, which had been taken care of by the Horticulture Department, could have been used by the farmers to repay a part of their bank loans,” he opined.
He said the banks had made it clear that the loans would not be written off.