The flower trade withers under lockdown

In the period before COVID-19, there were around two dozen hamlets in the mandals of Nagalapuram, Pitchatur, Narayanavanam and Puttur in the district in the summer months.

In the summer, flowers, mostly jasmine and tuberose, sold like hot cakes. In the past, many sacks of jasmine were loaded onto APSRTC buses and trucks going to the Koyambedu flower market in Chennai.

After COVID hit the country in March of last year, around 200 families in these hamlets, who mostly rely on the cultivation of various flowers, got into trouble. Many of them are smallholders who grow the flower varieties on just a quarter of a hectare.

Although her business resumed in September, her fortune is yet to return. Just as things were getting back to normal, the second wave hit the country in March and dashed their hopes. Not even a single sack currently reaches Chennai, which is subject to strict lockdown restrictions. It’s been two months since the flowers in their little gardens saw a taker. Few households that are not used to missing daily pujas buy these flowers.

It’s just an eponymous shop at the trading points (mandis) elsewhere in the district. “Before the pandemic, we immediately got good money for our shares. Now we just dump our sacks of flowers there. We receive our payment once a week or 14 days, ten times less than our usual price. We cannot protest either. We have no choice but to give up the harvest, ”says Mutthurasa (30), a farmer from Nagalapuram Mandal.

Pitchatur worst hit

Pitchatur Mandal is known for producing the finest jasmines thanks to the Araniyar Reservoir which serves the interests of hundreds of farmers. The sufficient water table is another reason for record flower harvests. However, the pandemic has stolen the luck of the growers in the Mandal, which has taken the brunt of it.

At the Mandal headquarters in Narayanavanam, over a hundred flower sellers have been left without consolation since March last year. Her customers were many pilgrims who visited the Kalyana Venkateswara Temple here.

“Most of our customers are not ready to buy flowers right now. The fear of infection prevents them from approaching us. It seems that they have decided to go without flowers for a few more months, ”said a flower seller Velamma (55).

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