When various factors have forced arecanut growers to loose hopes on its cultivation, a homemaker at Beeramangala near Sullia in Dakshina Kannada has proved that ornamental floriculture in arecanut plantation is possible and it can bring some cheer to the growers.

The homemaker, Raji R.K., has been cultivating and selling ornamental Ginger Lilly and Torch Ginger flowers for the past six years and three years, respectively. Their colonies are spread over in her family's six acre arecanut plantation as an inter-crop.

Following their commercial success, Ms. Raji took up cultivating Siam Rose (Etlingera cornerii), another ornamental flower, two years ago. Some Siam Rose flowers are now ready for their first harvest.

The ornamental flowers find market in Bangalore. “I never repented. I am happy,” Ms. Raji told The Hindu while describing a novel attempt. The plantation has about 1,500 colonies of Ginger Lilly plants, 50 colonies of torch ginger and 20 colonies of Siam Rose plants. “The buyer now gives me Rs. 8 per each Ginger Lilly flower and Rs. 6 per each Torch Ginger flower. The rate for Siam Rose is yet to be fixed as it will be the first harvest,” she said.

A cut Ginger Lilly lasts (vase life) a week while a Torch Ginger four days. But a Siam Rose has about 15 days of vase life. “It is not real rose. The flower has strong petals unlike fragile petals of a rose,” she said.

Ms. Raji said that all the plants start yielding after two years of planting. About 15 or 20 flowers can be harvested a day from a matured Ginger Lilly plant. A Torch Ginger yields about 20 flowers a day.

She said that tender cones inside buds of Torch Ginger flowers could be used for preparing soup. “It has got strong aroma beating the aroma of onion and ginger,” she said.

It is used as a food item in Thailand. Ms. Raji said that weather of Sullia best suits for growing them.

“We get large size shining quality flowers here. Shade and water in arecanut plantation and humid weather suits for their cultivation,” she said. “The quality of flowers harvested in April, May and June is very good,” she said.

It does not require any chemical spray. “I feed them organic manure once a year,” she said. Her monthly income from the sale of ornamental flowers is Rs. 10,000, said her husband R.K. Bhat.

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