November 9, 2016
Bengaluru: Farmers in distress due to severe drought is common news nowadays. But to know that few of them have found an alternative route out of the misery is not only good news, but it comes as a relief amidst an otherwise gloomy reality.
Marigold flower or Chendu Hoovu is the reason for happiness for many farmers in Karnataka who were struggling to make ends meet. Cashing in on the rise in demand during this festive season, farmers in Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara, Bengaluru rural, and Mysuru have all found an alternative source of livelihood through this flower. “The demand for marigold starts from Ganesha Chathurthi and continues during Navratri, Dussehra, Diwali till the New Year. Be it a puja, party or any other function, a touch of marigold is essential. The demand during these times pushes the market retail price up to Rs 100 to 150 per kg. Due to the short cropping period, low investment and care, this flower has become the favourite amongst many farmers. Many have ditched conventional crops for it,” says Binoy Ranjan Das, agriculturalist.
Elucidating further on the shift, Shuvodeep, horticulturalist says, “Marigold can be cultivated throughout the year, and the climate in and around Karnataka is suitable for marigold cultivation. It can be done in small farms, so farmers with limited economic capacity can also cultivate this. The crop is ready for first harvest in two months and subsequently 4-5 harvests can be reaped.” He adds, “The production is generally 6-8 tonnes per acre of land. The cultivation cost isn’t more than Rs 10,000-12,000 per acre (minimum care is needed), so a farmer can easily earn around Rs 20,000-25,000 per acre.” These factors are big motivators for any farmer to make the switch.
Shreedhar, a flower vendor who sits in Bannerghatta Road, throws more light on this, “My elder brother who lives in Davanagere made this shift from food crops to marigold. He is cultivating on a two-acre land with Rs 1 lakh investment that he has taken as loan. He is happy with the returns, grows more than 150 kgs in a single harvest, sells them for Rs 40-50 per kg depending upon the time of the year.” Shreedhar is inspired by his brother and reveals his future plan to us. “I may soon start to cultivate marigold too. Cash crop really yields cash,” he concludes.