With ‘athapookkalams' appearing at every nook and cranny of the city, the seasonal demand for flowers is peaking.

Prices have almost doubled and are expected to hit the roof by Thursday. Flower merchants say prices will remain high because of the steady demand during the marriage season.

On Wednesday, the price of ‘arali' and ‘jamanthi' touched Rs.150 per kg while the ‘vadamulla' was selling for Rs.100 to Rs.150 and the ‘kozhipoo' at Rs.125 in the Chala market. However, the rose remained on the top of the price chart at Rs.250 a kg. The lotus cost Rs.5 per flower.

More than 7,500 kg of flowers reach the Chala market daily. Most of the 75 odd flower shops here do a brisk business averaging Rs.30,000. A major portion of the daily consignment of flowers at the Chalai market arrives from Madurai and Thovala, though Hosur in Karnataka remains the single biggest source for rose and kandhi.

Jamanthi, a much-sought-after flower for ‘athapookkalam,' is flown in from Bangalore.

Local famers are also cashing in on the demand by supplying lotus grown in the Vellayani Lake. Sankarankovil and Dindigul in Tamil Nadu and Satyamangalam on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border are the other sources.

President of the Trivandrum Florists Association M. Vairavan Pillai wants the government to promote floriculture in Kerala. “Domestic nurseries can farm endemic species of flowers for the mass market instead of exotic species that cater to a premium segment,” he says.

For Suresh, a merchant at Chala, selling flowers is a gamble. He sees the need for a cold chain mechanism to extend the shelf life of flowers.

Keywords: Onam