Tamil Nadu

A business that’s no longer blooming

Unharvested flowers on a field in Tiruvallur district. B. Jothi Ramalingam

Unharvested flowers on a field in Tiruvallur district. B. Jothi Ramalingam  

Flowers left to wilt as farmers are unable to transport them to markets amid lockdown

G. Natarajan, a marigold farmer at Sethupakkam village in Tiruvallur district, is normally busy heaping up the flowers that have been plucked from his field and are ready to be sent to various markets. But this season, he is confined to his house, filled with worry about the fate of the flowers cultivated in his field, as he has been unable to find vehicles to transport them.

Acres of unharvested marigold and jasmine have been wilting in many parts of Tiruvallur district this month, as farmers have no means to transport them due to the country-wide lockdown that has been imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mr. Natarajan said he had cultivated marigold and jasmine on his one-acre field. He usually transports his flowers to the market at Tamaraipakkam Road junction or the one in Koyambedu using a two-wheeler or a mini-truck. “But now, the nearby markets are closed. I was turned away a few days ago from our main road. I have no option but to let the flowers wilt,” he said.

On an average, marigold would fetch ₹20-₹40 per kg and jasmine ₹100 per kg during the season. Many farmers source marigold saplings from Hosur and cultivate them in villages around Periapalayam and Tamaraipakkam.

V. Gangadharan, a marigold farmer in Kadarvedu village, said, “We harvest a minimum of 20-30 kg of jasmine in half-an-acre of land every day, and around 350 kg of marigold in half-an-acre of land on alternate days. We are planning to wait another 4-5 days to harvest marigold or allow them to wilt and turn them into compost.” Every farmer would have to bear a loss of at least ₹90,000 per acre as there are no takers and no transport facility to reach the city market. Groundnut and chillies are also waiting to be harvested, but they still have takers and can be stored for a longer period of time, he added.

Wholesale flower traders in Koyambedu have sought permission from the police and the Greater Chennai Corporation to source a third of the usual load from Monday. The Koyambedu wholesale market receives rose, jasmine and marigold from Hosur, Salem and Tiruvallur.

S. Mukkaiya, president, Koyambedu Wholesale Flowers Market Merchants’ Association, said, “The wholesale market has been permitted to function from 4 a.m. to noon. We have asked the police to allow farmers to bring flowers on two-wheelers. Sales have dropped by 50%.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 7:09:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-business-thats-no-longer-blooming/article31195195.ece

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