Not a rosy picture for Kadiyam farmers

Nurseries like this one at Kadiyam have been hit hard by recession.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: S. Rambabu

B.V.S. Bhaskar

The nurseries are spread over 3,000 acres, and 10,000-20,000 people are dependent on them

Kadiyam (Rajahmundry): People making a beeline for this tiny village in their luxury cars, to pick their favourite varieties of creepers, decorative items, palms and indoor plants was a common sight earlier, but not anymore.

Due to the recession, the export of plants and flowers from Kadiyam and nearby villages — famous worldwide for their nurseries — has come down drastically.

These nurseries are spread over 3,000 acres, and when the going was good, 10,000-20,000 people are dependent directly or indirectly on them.

The downturn in the real estate and IT sectors has badly affected nurseries in the Kadiyam area, and farmers have been shifting to other crops in the last one or two years. With the number of orders shrinking, farmers owning small nurseries are closing them down.

Earlier, tourists made it a point to visit Kadiyam or Kaidyapu Lanka villages along with Burri Lanka, Potti Lanka and Bobbilanka, to enjoy the scenic beauty. Many of them purchased their favourite varieties of plants. Film personalities too were major buyers.

“Plants are a luxury item. IT and real estate developers were the main customers till 2008. Now, even though the government is giving free power and subsidies, labour charges have doubled from Rs.100 to Rs.200 a day for men and Rs.40 to Rs.100 for women,” says Palla Subrahmanyam of Satyanarayana Nurseries.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is the main reason for the increase in labour charges and the non-availability of labour. Till last year, 10,000 people from Srikakulam were working in these nurseries, but there has been a 50 per cent drop this year.

Farmers of nurseries seek encouragement from the government in the form of poly houses for decorative plants, export and training facilities. “If nurseries in 5-6 villages are still in the business it is because of the encouragement given by banks,” says Subrahmanyam.

The increase in the price of inputs is only adding to the woes of farmers.

The sale of plants to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, U.P., Kerala, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh has gone down by 50 per cent in the last year.