The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on floriculture in the Nilgiris, with many farmers forced to destroy their harvests this year due to a lack of buyers.
According to officials from the Department of Horticulture, there are 103 farmers who depend on floriculture in the Nilgiris. Most of them had switched over from growing tea to floriculture over the last few years. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic however, has forced many farmers, who had been growing flowers, to switch to other crops to make ends meet, admit officials.
One such cut flower farmer, L. Jitendiran, from Perar near Udhagamandalam, said that farmers were struggling to sell cut flowers for even ₹2 per flower. “I grow carnations, and May is the harvest time. We supply to Bangalore, and prices average at around ₹7 per flower,” said Mr. Jitendiran. But due to a lack of demand, his entire harvest has gone to waste and he had used the cut flowers as manure. “Many farmers who practice floriculture have already given up the livelihood due to the impact of the pandemic over the last two years,” he said.
Joint Director of Horticulture, Nilgiris district, Sivasubramaniam Samraj, said that the main export hub for flowers in Bengaluru had been closed down due to the pandemic, meaning growers were unable to send their harvest to the market. “Another factor is that all functions like marriages have been cancelled. So this avenue for generating revenue has also been closed off to them,” he said.
Farmers in the Nilgiris were hopeful that their flowers would be used at the flower show this year. However, the cancellation of the summer festival season meant that all the flowers they had grown this season have gone to waste.
“We have asked the growers to make a representation to the government, so that a decision can be made as to how best they can be helped,” said an official.