CWG nips Himachal florists’ fortunes in bud

Shimla, Oct 23 (IANS) The flower business in Himachal Pradesh is bouncing back with the onset of the festive and marriage season after the Commonwealth Games disaster as florists failed to get bulk orders to supply flowers, chiefly roses, carnations and marigolds, as expected.

Moreover, the restrictions imposed by the security agencies in the national capital during the Games had discouraged transporters to carry even the routine supply of flowers there, said the farmers.

‘It was a double blow for the growers. On the one hand, we failed to get the bulk during the Games as projected by it (state government), and, on the other, even the routine supply of flowers to Delhi was hampered by security restrictions,’ Ravinder Sood, a prominent flower grower near Bilaspur town, told IANS.

‘The demand for flowers generally increases after mid-September when the festive season begins. This year the supply was good before the beginning of the Games. As the Games approached, the demand vanished. We had to dump the flowers at throwaway prices in Punjab and Haryana markets,’ he added.

Balbir Singh, another farmer in upper Shimla, said: ‘The farmers were virtually taken for a ride. Initially the government advised the farmers to go for floriculture. Most of the farmers who were cultivating vegetables opted for floriculture. When there was no taker for the flowers, the government said it had no role and the farmers had to directly supply the flowers to the Games organisers.’

He said a bunch of high quality carnations was sold at Rs.40 to Rs.50 during the Games against the normal rate of Rs.120 to Rs.150.

The farmers in the state are growing commercial varieties of marigold, carnation, tulip, lilium, gladiolus, chrysanthemum and rose. Approximately 680 hectares of land is under flower cultivation and 2,800 farmers are involved in it.

Naresh Lakhanpal, a commission agent in Solan, said it was just a government hype.

‘The growers were actually misguided. They were told to go for cultivation of roses, carnations and lilies. There was hardly any major buyer in Delhi. Even the organisers (of the Games) were keen to procure ornamental flowers and orchids from the Northeast. The orders placed by the commission agents in Delhi with the (Himachal Pradesh) farmers were cancelled at the last minute,’ he added.

He said the flower business from Solan was just Rs.5 lakh against the normal business of Rs.10 to Rs.15 lakh during this month. ‘Now, the festive and marriage season has pushed up the demand for marigold and other flowers,’ he added.

Many pockets in Solan, Shimla, Sirmaur, Mandi, Kullu, Bilaspur and Chamba districts have made a name for themselves in the flower business.

In 2009-10, the state conducted business worth Rs.41.8 crore in flowers.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had said the organisers had placed orders worth Rs.30 crore with the state for supplying flowers during the Games.

Director of Horticulture Gurdev Singh said: ‘The department is collecting information regarding the orders placed with the farmers during the Games.’

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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