Recent cyclone has devastated the large kewra plantations in Ganjam district affecting livelihood of around 10,000 families depending on trading of these aromatic flowers. Around 70 per cent of the kewra plantations in the district are said to be damaged by the cyclone. Proper official assessment of losses to kewra plantations is yet to be done.
It may be noted that Ganjam district is the largest producer of the aromatic kewra flowers in the country. It is grown in large quantity in Ganjam, Chatrapur, Chikiti and Rangeilunda blocks of Gajam district. Over 136 kewra distilleries are attached to the three kewra mandis in the district. As per an assessment the annual turnover of kewra flowers produced in Ganjamdistrict was more than Rs.50 crore per year. It may be noted that the kewra plantations had been the catalyst of anti-Tisco agitation in the nineties against the now shelved mega steel project of the company in the district.
As per the Kewra Growers’ Association of Ganjam district, around 70 per cent of the kewra plants in the district have been damaged. Natabar Sahu, leader of the kewra growers, said most of the kewra bushes were either uprooted or had their upper ends blown away by the cyclonic storm.
The data provided by the association says there are around 19,000 persons in the district who depend on kewra plantations as each of these aromatic flowers fetch around five rupees during peak season.
Out of them at least 10,000 would be affected by the damage to kewra plantations by the cyclonic storm.
The loss to kewra plantations is claimed to be the most in Rangeilunda block. The plantations near villages like Tulu, Indrakshi, Mendrajpur, Panapalli etc are completely devastated. “As most surviving kewra bushes have lost their upper portions, it is unlikely that they will flower in coming months,” said Mr Sahu. The kewra growers still want to replant kewra bushes. But the kewra bushes which would be planted now would take another five years to produce flowers, the kewra growers say. But the kewra growers who have got some kewra bushes unaffected hope that they may get good income for the small number of flowers as the demand for it may increase in coming months due to scarcity of flowers after the cyclonic devastation.
Ganjam district is the largest producer of the aromatic kewra flowers in the country