The District Administration has agreed to positively consider allotting land for establishing a common collection centre to the farmers of Uthappanaickanur near Usilampatti block in the district who cultivate the famous ‘Madurai Malli’ (jasmine).

District Revenue Officer Dinesh Ponraj Oliver who chaired a high-power meeting recently to discuss the problems of the jasmine growers also suggested that the State Horticulture Farm at Periyakulam, Theni Distirct, may be approached to ascertain the feasibility of establishing the collection centre and also make available their expertise to the Uthappanaickanur flower growers.

R. Shankar Narayan, Assistant General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), M. Kathiresan, Deputy General Manager of Indian Bank, V. Chidambaram, Deputy Director, Agriculture Business, M. Krishnaswamy, Deputy Director, Horticulture Department, Federation of Flower

Growers of Uthappanaickanur and ARD, an NGO, were among those who took part in the meeting.

Mr. Shankar Narayan told The Hindu that around 500 small and marginal farmers are growing jasmine and other commonly-used flowers at 1,250 acres of land in the two blocks of the districts. One is Usilampatti block, in which seven panchayats are involved in this sector while the other is Chellampatti block in which two panchayats are into flower cultivation.

“As the farmers are mainly depending on Commission Agents, who pocket at least 20 per cent of their income, this meeting was held to help farmers get the full benefits of their produce,” he said.

The meeting was also intended to address another major issue of farmers which is the fluctuating prices. He said while jasmine prices sometimes went as high as Rs. 600 per kg during peak seasons or when productivity was low, it also plummetted to levels as low as Rs. 20 a kg when there was a glut in the market.

Further, proposals to grant licence in trading of fertiliser and pesticide to the farmer’s Federation were also mooted, to which the Department of Horticulture assured full support. They agreed to ensure technical guidance to the farmers in improving productivity. Mr. Shankar Narayan also suggested that the jasmine farmers be considered for drip irrigation.

The meeting decided to seek the District Collector’s approval to form a high-power committee, headed by him and comprising AGM, NABARD, Indian Bank and the Deputy Directors of Departments of Horticulture and Agriculture Business to oversee progress and achievements in this regard.

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