Rain showers hope on flower farmers

Reasonable yield following good showers in the last two months and hike in price of flowers have brought cheer to the farming community of the district.

The villages such as Seerikkadu, Achankuttapatti, Kuppanur, Paruthikkadu, Kuppanur Kattuvalavu accounted for many gardens of jasmine, crossandra (kanakambaram), oleander (arali), kakkattan etc.

The repeated monsoon failure in the last few years had affected the livelihood of the flower farmers to a big extent.

This was despite the Mullukattu jungle stream flowing across these villages. The recurring drought conditions forced many farmers to sink borewells by procuring loans from money lenders, as the cooperative societies and nationalised banks had their own limitations in extending financial assistance to the farming community.

The farmers raise jasmine for seven months in a year (from Tamil months of ‘Vaikasi’ to ‘Thai’) and kakkattan for the next few months.

The water scarcity was so acute that many of the farmers had spent even as high as Rs. one lakh for purchasing water for the crops during the summer months.

Besides the Mullukattu canal, the Uppukinaru lake in the village has also remained dry for the last few years.

K. Manikkam, a leading farmer of Seerikkadu owning flower farms in a few acres, says the water scarcity hit him so badly that he was forced to sink borewells for watering the plants. As the first two 1,000 ft deep borewells failed, he had to go for one more.

He had no other alternative but to sell the entire cattle stock for a pittance for sinking borewells, besides procuring loans from private money lenders. He allegedly spent almost Rs. 10 lakh for the three borewells.

It was the recent widespread rainfall received by the district, which came to the rescue of Manikkam. Now there is reasonably good yield of jasmine, he says.

The jasmine flowers that were priced at Rs. 250 per kg in the past are at present fetching a price between Rs. 350 to Rs. 400 per kg. During season they fetch a price as high as Rs. 1,000 per kg.

The wholesale traders make it a point to visit the villages to collect the flower stock directly from the farmers.

In their absence the farmers take the flowers to the VOC wholesale market in the city and other flower markets, from where they were transported to various parts of Tamil Nadu and to the neighbouring States.

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