Valentine’s Day windfall for Himachal farmersBy Vishal Gulati, IANS
Friday, February 12, 2010
SHIMLA - Valentine’s Day again gladdens the hearts of thousands of flower growers of Himachal Pradesh as roses and carnations that bloom in the cool climes are much sought after by lovers.
“The rose and carnation buds cultivated in the hill state are in great demand in most north Indian cities round the year,” state horticulture department assistant floriculturist B.S. Guleria told IANS.
But there is a huge spike in demand just before Valentine’s Day Feb 14.
“This Valentine’s Day the farmers are getting remunerative prices as there is sudden surge in the demand for flowers. Most of the farmers have already despatched the flowers to the wholesale markets of Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Karnal and Delhi,” Guleria said.
The farmers are growing commercial varieties of marigold, carnation, tulip, lilies, gladiolus, chrysanthemum, rose, daffodil, alstroemeria and statice — mostly in Shimla, Sirmaur, Bilaspur, Chamba and Solan districts.
“Carnations are much in demand in Delhi and beyond. I sold more than 10,000 buds of carnation in Chandigarh yesterday (Thursday). A bud of carnation was sold at between Rs.10 and Rs.12 in the wholesale market. On other days, it is sold at around Rs.5,” said Jagdish Sharma, a prominent flower grower in Tissa in Chamba district.
“This year weather was favourable, so the production was good and so was quality and colour of flowers. We are sending them to Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai too,” he added.
Tissa and the Churah valley in Chamba district have made their name on the international floriculture map. More than 1,000 farmers are now growing carnations.
Askok Kumar, another grower near Bilaspur town, said: “We have pruned the plants in such a way they give a flush of roses before Valentine’s Day. During this period, roses sell like hot cakes. A bud of rose varies from Rs.25 to Rs.30 in Chandigarh and Delhi.”
He said this year wholesale buyers reached the farmers to buy the flowers directly. The state is promoting the cultivation of flowers in modern greenhouses called polyhouses.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) last year sanctioned a loan of Rs.155 crore to the state under which 30,000 polyhouses would be set up in the next four years to promote off-season farming, particularly in the lower and mid-hills.
Around 2,800 farmers are directly involved in flower cultivation on 618 hectares. The total earnings from floriculture in the state are around Rs.27.33 crore a year.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)