Kewra growers in Chatrapur block of Ganjam district have come together to fix minimum procurement price for kewra flowers.
It may be noted that last year kewra growers of Ganjam district did not got proper income from their kewra produce as price of these aromatic flowers had gone down drastically. Each flower was sold at Rs. 2. This year kewra growers have started to get united for good income for their produce.
Chatrapur block Kewra Growers Association (CKGA), an organisation of kewra growers formed in 1958, has taken up the initiative for it. The association has three former MLAs of Chatrapur as advisers. They are N. Narayan Reddy, Ashok Choudhury, and Biswanath Sahu, who played major role in the formation of the association several decades ago. As per the advisers, they have to take initiative to fix procurement price of kewra flowers to stop exploitation of kewra growers.
According to Mr. Reddy, at a recent meeting, the association members have decided to fix procurement price of kewra flowers at Rs. 6.50 per flower. Representatives of three major kewra mandis at Keluapalli, Biswanathpur and Agraharam have also agreed for the price. The price fixation will provide some good income to the kewra growers of Ganjam district. “We have also intimated our fixation of procurement price of kewra to the district administration,” he has said.
It may be noted that Ganjam district is the largest producer of the aromatic kewra flower in the country. It is grown in large quantity in Ganjam, Chatrapur, Chikiti, and Rangeilunda blocks of Ganjam district. Some 136 kewra distilleries are attached to the three kewra mandis in the district.
It is an irony that most of these kewra distilleries are owned by persons from outside the State, especially from Kanauj area of Uttar Pradesh. Kewra growers allege that they are usually exploited by these distillery owners. “These distillery owners allegedly try to procure kewra at low price and also pay up after one year,” according to Mr. Reddy.
Every year there are two kewra flower plucking seasons. One of them is at the onset of monsoon and the other is in winter.
Last year the kewra distillery owners, on the pretext of reduced demand for kewra extract due to ban on gutka and pan masala reduced the procurement price. But kewra growers say ban on gutka and pan masala has only reduced demand for kewra essence by 25 per cent. Till now there is a demand for use of kewra in other industries like food industry, incense industry, soap industry etc and this demand is on the rise.
“Ganjam district of Odisha produces around 90 per cent of the kewra in India. But Odisha could never tap the economic prospect of this valuable aromatic flower and its extract,” says Mr. Reddy. Even the trading of kewra essence distilled from the kewra of Odisha depends on traders of Uttar Pradesh. Higher-end products of kewra are yet to be produced in the State.