Defying illiteracy, 420 women floriculturists from Kotha Reddypalem and Patha Reddypalem villages in Machilipatnam have proved that they can be successful entrepreneurs

Flower sellers from two villages have turned successful women entrepreneurs-cum-farmers by engaging in floriculture - right from growing flower-bearing plants to marketing the flowers.

About 420 women from Kotha Reddypalem and Patha Reddypalem villages in Machilipatnam mandal to grow different kinds of flowers in their backyards. Finding a way to tap the market, they started growing flower-bearing plants in every available piece of land in their villages. “Middlemen in the market try to cheat us. So, we sell the flowers on the streets and roadsides in Machilipatnam,” says B. Padmavathi, an illiterate woman who grows half-a-dozen varieties of flowering plants in her seven cents of the land. “The lowest profit on a field of five cents is Rs. 6,000 to 7,000 per month, irrespective of the season,” Ms. Padmavathi tells The Hindu. Flowers such as firecrackers, Arabian Nights and plump varieties of jasmine and other winter varieties, are grown in the fields less than 15 cents.”

The entrepreneurs’ day starts with plucking of flowers, making garlands, and receiving new orders. “We often have to wait till 10 p.m. in the market till all the flowers are sold out,” says B. Venkateswaramma, who earns Rs. 1,200 on any given day, whether summer or winter. There are several tenant farmers and most of them experiment with growing new varieties of plants on their sandy soil. Men are only asked to dig puddles for water accumulation in the field. These puddles are the only source of water to irrigate the plants, even in mid-summer.

The first generation flower seller-turned-entrepreneur M. Nagamalleswaramma has her single-day transaction touching Rs. 60,000 even when the marketing is dull. She says: “I import decorative flowers and rose varieties from Banglore to meet the demand.”

“The successful rural folks are now adopting new marketing strategies as they have learnt a few technical aspects in floriculture and yield management” says V. Suresh, director of Nestham, an NGO.