Andhra Pradesh

Lockdown plucks off the bloom, buzz and fragrance from Vijayawada’s wholesale flower market

With few hours to do business and high perishability, the Association has decided to down shutters to cut losses; they are forlonly seeing a dry season until Saravana Maasam or Dasara

In other times it would be buzzing - not of bees - and the air a cocktail of natural fragrances in the city’s ground-zero for the wholesale market of flowers. But it neither has the baskets and baskets of flowers nor the buzz of buyers due to the lockdown. It simply wears a deserted look as the Market Association has formally announced its closure till March 31.

Vendors say “there have no clue” whether they would be able to open their shops even after March 31 in view of lockdown which ends on April 14. For now, they simply have their fingers crossed as Srirama Navami celebrations are expected to be muted - with little or decorations, and hence no flowers - on April 2.

Flowerless and muted festivals

Their worry has a reason: already, Ugadi, the Telugu New Year, passed without any sales as the market was closed since the Janata Curfew on March 22. There are no major festivals after Srirama Navami in the coming months.

The market picks up only during Sravana maasaam, an auspicious month in the Telugu calendar. Hordes of women flock the market to buy flowers for Varalakshmi Vratam celebrated during the Sravana Maasam. This year, it begins from the last week of July. Moreover, vendors would have to wait till Dasara, which is the biggest business season more than Sravana Maasam or the wedding season.

Withered business

Vendors like Qaja say that they do a business of ₹ 15,000 to ₹ 30,000 if they worked from 5 a.m to 10 p.m. But they were quick to add that the flower market is volatile. Sometimes, the predictions go wrong. “Though the market receives jasmine, during summer and has good demand, it is unlikely that the vendors would come out of the losses,” feels Basha, another flower vendor.

According to information, the flower market receives blossoms from Bangalore, Kolar (Karnataka), Kuppam in Chittoor district, Tadepalli in Guntur district etc. On normal days, the flower arrivals would be anywhere between 250 Metric Tonnes (MT) to 400 MT. During Dasara, it would be more than 800 MT. There are more than 80 shops in the market, and, each shop receives three to five MT of flowers every day.

A broken garland

The Wholesale Flower Merchants’ Association president Sheik Jani says the flower merchants/ commission agents are incurring a loss anywhere between ₹ 15,000 to ₹20,000 every day due to the closure. Othere suffers in thye chain include the daily wage workers, petty vendors who sell the flowers on the roadside.

Moreover, as the market would have to be closed by 12 noon due to lockdown, the Association has decided to close down till March 31. “Flowers are the most perishable goods even more than vegetables. Except throwing into garbage we cannot sell the flowers the next day. So, we have downed shutters to minimise the losses,” he rued.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 11:16:48 PM |

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