Rain plays spoilsport for farmers

Recent rain spell has dampened hopes of a good harvest

Updated - September 02, 2022 08:03 am IST

Published - September 01, 2022 08:49 pm IST - KOLLAM

Children collect flowers to make pookalam on the occasion of Atham.

Children collect flowers to make pookalam on the occasion of Atham. | Photo Credit: C. Sureshkumar

Ponnan’s marigold farm was supposed to brim with a gorgeous yellow this season. Pusa Bahar, a variety developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, was blooming well but the recent rain spell has dampened his hopes of a good harvest.

“I had started cultivation on a trial basis targeting the Onam market, but the flowers with weak stems can’t withstand heavy rain. It will be difficult to get a good yield as the flower buds will not open without sunlight,” says the farmer from Chathannur.

Apart from ruining the market prospects, rain has also affected the chance of harvesting the flowers for seed. “We have to wait for the right time to collect the mature seeds and currently there is no possibility of saving some. The petals should be dry when we collect them and we cannot use rain-damaged flowers,” he adds.

Demand for marigold hits the roof during Onam and there will be a steady increase in prices from Atham to Thiruvonam. While off-season price remains around ₹50 per kg, it soars to ₹200 and beyond during the festival time.

According to Thulasidharan, a farmer from Chirakkara, rain-soaked flowers have no takers. “My flowers had gained good size before the rain, but now all the plants are in a bad condition. Though I have managed to salvage some, there will not be much left if the rain continues.”

While the presence of water makes the petals to droop, it is also hard to find market for rain-sodden flowers. Fully bloomed flowers will fetch only half the price and the farmers are forced to sell it due to the water weight.

Flower merchants say it is risky to depend on domestic farmers as they had to cancel many orders this week. “This year, we could not meet the demand for Atham and Vinayaka Chaturthi. After delivering bulk orders, there was nothing left and we had to depend on agents from Tamil Nadu at the last moment. The supply from Tenkasi is steady and it is a safer option for us,” says Venu, a merchant from Kottarakara.

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