With Tihar – another big festival in the country – around the corner, the demand for flowers, especially marigolds, has increased considerably.
The demand has also increased because of the growing trend of using marigold garlands during programmes of political parties, annual general meetings of cooperatives and other events, such as campaigns for the upcoming elections on November 20.
Fourteen women operating the Mechi Community Homestay in Bahundangi, Mechinagar Municipality-4, have collectively taken to marigold cultivation and scripted a success story.
Bhawana Gurung, chairman of the Mechi Community Homestay Management Committee, narrated how they started commercial farming marigold flowers by leasing eight-anna of land.
"We're struggling to keep up with the demand. We have orders for 1,500 garlands only for Tihar," Gurung said.
With the campaigns for November 20 elections heating up, she said, they are receiving orders for more than 100 garlands daily. And she is worried that they might be unable to fulfil the Tihar orders.
"It takes 30 flowers to prepare a garland that sells for Rs80," she said.
As they are facing difficulty meeting the growing demands, the women are planning to lease a bigha of land for commercial farming next year, Gurung explained. "All that takes is to grow the flowers, the customers would come to you to buy them. So Marigold's business is a profitable proposition for a little expenditure and hard work," she said.
Arjun Karki, chair of Mechinagar Municipality-4, has been helping the community with the commercial farming of marigolds. While the women have taken a plot of land on lease for commercial flower farming, the ward chair's role is to bring floriculture experts into contact and train them.
Dilliram Upreti is another entrepreneur involved in the floriculture business. He has been running a nursery business for eight years. He has been cultivating marigolds on a bigha of land he has leased in Birtamod Municipality-6 Buttabari under his company called D&D Bioplantech.
Upreti, who cultivates two popular varieties of marigold – Kolkatta local and Karma 555, however, seems to know the answer as to why commercial farmers in Jhapa have been struggling to meet the demand.
According to him, marigold cultivation has decreased this year compared to the past. "We don't get enough time to string garlands and sell them," he said.
Upreti, who also cultivates vegetables, melons, etc., for commercial purposes, said that marigold flowers are the most acceptable form of cultivation. "Marigold cultivation yields a big return on a small investment," he said.
Although the farmers' attraction towards the cultivation of marigold flowers is increasing, Upreti said, the country had not yet been independent of flowers due to the inability to do it commercially.
The district can be independent in flowers if the local government facilitates extending easy loans and other subsidies to incentivise farmers, said Upreti.
With RSS inputs