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Udupi’s little known chrysanthemum garden

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Chrysanthemum farmer Shekhar Ganiga working in his field at Hemmady village in Udupi district.
Chrysanthemum farmer Shekhar Ganiga working in his field at Hemmady village in Udupi district.

The fragrance of ‘sevantige’ (chrysanthemum) flowers pervades the village of Hemmady, about 45 km from Udupi. It is a pleasing sight to see the yellow sevantige flowers dance gently to a breeze. Although Udupi district is known for Shankarpura ‘mallige’ (jasmine), the Hemmady sevantige, as it is called, though equally popular, is not all that well known.

The sevantige is grown roughly on about 150 acres of land at Hemmady and the neighbouring village of Katbelthur. About 200 farmers have been cultivating the flower here. The farmers usually grow three crops of sevantige on three categories of lands. They sow the seeds for the first crop in August, for the second crop in September, and the third crop in October. It takes about six months for the sevantige plants to grow and yield flowers. The flowers of the first crop usually bloom in the second week of January (around January 10).

The farmers take these flowers and sell it at the flower market at Maranakatte village, about 14 km from Hemmady. The sellers from other places, including Mangalore, Karkala, Bhatkal, Kumta, Honnavar, and Shimoga, come to Maranakatte and pick it up. It is a tradition among these farmers to offer a portion of their crop to the Brahmalingeshwara Temple at Maranakatte.

The rates of these flowers are decided by market. On an average, a farmer gets a minimum price of Rs. 80 to Rs. 100 per 1,000 flowers; the maximum could be Rs. 300 or more. “If we get less than Rs. 80 or Rs. 100, it is a loss for us,” said Shekhar Ganiga, who grows sevantige on one acre of land in Hemmady. On an average, nearly four to five lakh flowers are sold daily at Maranakatte from mid-January to April-end. But on three days, January 14, 15 and 16 and on February 13, crores of sevantige flowers are sold here because of festival season. “The sevantige is a winter crop,” said Mahabala Devadiga, who grows it on one acre of land.

What makes the Hemmady sevantige so special? “It has its own unique fragrance. Besides sevantige of this kind can only be grown at Hemmady and Katbeltur villages. The quality of soil here is responsible for making our sevantige so special,” said Diwakar Kotian, a sevantige flower grower.

GANESH PRABHU

‘Sevantige’ is grown on 150 acres in Hemmady and Katbelthur

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