Five years into direct selling of rose, marigold, jasmine and nauranga flowers to the devotees going to temples situated in the nearby towns, small and marginal farmers of Berru village in the Bharatpur district have learnt a new culture of cultivation. Going beyond the traditional mandi transactions, the farmers have realised the potential of floriculture after finding profitable avenues for their produce.
Berru village, situated on Nagar-Sikri road deep inside the Mewat region of eastern Rajasthan, has emerged as the hub of flower cultivation fulfilling the daily needs of famous temple towns such as Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana. A spectacular view of beautiful flowers in many hues on both sides of road greets the visitors as they approach the small village.
Farmers in Berru, inhabited by just 1,500 people, keep on changing the varieties of flowers for cultivation in accordance with the weather. This strategy ensures the production of flowers throughout the year, even as their entire family is engaged in sowing, irrigation, earthwork and preparation of stems for the new plants. Families divide the work among themselves for plucking and collection of flowers, selecting the produce, taking flowers to the market and preparing garlands in different sizes, which are in heavy demand at the places of worship as well as at other important functions.
The floriculture was taken up as a drive in Berru about five years ago when Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation adopted the nondescript village for its all-round development as part of an action plan for the backward Mewat region. The productive soil of Berru and the location of temple towns near the village were taken into account while selecting flower cultivation as the principal avocation for helping out the rural community.
The Foundation, functioning as the corporate social responsibility wing of pharmaceutical major Lupin, initially provided seeds of rose and other plants on subsidised prices and obtained loans worth Rs.10,000 each from the Small Industries Development Bank of India for 20 farmers for purchasing agricultural inputs.
Chet Ram Saini was the first farmer in Berru to take up cultivation of roses in a two-bigha area of his field. The scale of harvest and the consequent profits, which increased manifold in comparison to traditional farming, prompted him to expand the floriculture area to 10 bighas along with the introduction of other flowers.
He initially travelled to the nearby towns on bicycle to supply the flowers, but the steep enhancement of both the demand and production led him to purchase a car in which he now mainly delivers roses to temples as far as in Mathura, Jaipur and Delhi throughout the year.
Chet Ram says though the cultivation of different types of flowers involves greater input of labour, the returns are four to five times high. The profits are mainly through the sale of roses as these plants yield flowers for seven to eight years. When the rose production subsides, other varieties are sown in the space between the plants to ensure harvest throughout the year.
Encouraged by the phenomenal increase in yield, some of the villagers have started preparing garlands and other decorative items at home. Traders and brokers from nearby towns regularly come to Berru to purchase these items. Some of the farmers also utilise the floriculture sites for cultivation of vegetables, which can be taken to market along with the flowers.
Foundation executive director Sita Ram Gupta said here earlier in the week that farmers in several nearby villages had started flower cultivation after noticing the profits earned by Berru residents. One of the difficulties faced by farmers is the storage of flowers in view of their very short life, because of which they have to be sold within a day or two.
“To resolve this problem, Lupin Foundation has prepared an action plan for installation of a small cold storage plant at Berru. Besides, farmers will be trained in the preparation of rosewater and gulkand to help them earn more profits through these products,” said Mr. Gupta.