With few buyers and falling prices, some prefer to leave the crops unpicked on the farms
Growing flowers had provided farmers with a stable monthly income, but business has not been rosy since the lockdown / curfew was imposed more than a month ago in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Selling fresh flowers is traditionally an afternoon / evening affair, but the 12-6pm curfew has left a small window for shops when only buying small quantities, mostly for puja.
A fact check in the villages of Venkatampalli and Nadimidoddi of the Narpala Mandal in the Anantapur district shows that there are no buyers for the popular and fast-moving ‘Kanakambaram’ (Crossandra infundibuliform – firecracker flower) for women, which costs 600 per kg in every season goes up to 2,000 per kg during the wedding season and at parties. It is said that very few business people are raising stocks.
Not worth labor costs
The district, which has the highest firecracker flower acreage in Andhra Pradesh (2,330 hectares) with 1,859 farmers, is struggling to sell its produce as the Bengaluru market is completely closed and not much is sold in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh markets. Many farmers left the flowers unpicked because they weren’t even worth the labor cost. Small quantities are bought by regular vendors from local markets with pittance wages. In Kurnool, too, 903 farmers grow the flowers commercially on 527 hectares in 27 villages.
White tuberose is being grown again in a significant area – 431 hectares at the level of YSR Kadapa district (468 hectares) – and chrysanthemums of all colors are being grown in polyhouses, which are responsible for decoration and other garland making businesses. Even these growers are finding it difficult to sell their products as prices have fallen sharply in recent months. “While white chrysanthemums used to cost almost 600 yen per kg, today they are only sold for 50 yen per kg,” says Prasad, a farmer in Nadimidoddi who grows them in a seven-hectare polyhouse.
Anil Kumar from Venkatampalli grows tuberose on three hectares. It used to get him ₹ 50 per kg, with his plot yielding 20 kg per day and increasing to 50 kg in high season. Now there are no bulk buyers for the flowers and so he no longer picks them and waits for the demand to improve after the ban is lifted.