Floods in Bengal’s flower growing hub trigger shortage concerns during Durga puja
There is not enough time for the cultivators to plant saplings that will mature and produce flowers by the last week of September when the pujas will be held this year.Updated: Aug 05, 2017, 14:29 IST
Floods in Bengal’s flower growing hub of East and West Midnapore has triggered concerns about scarcity of flowers during the state’s biggest festival of Durga puja that is just about 50 days away.
Vast areas of Panskura and Kolaghat in East Midnapore district as well as Ghatal, Daspur, Debra and Pingla in West Midnapore are still under water destroying plants in regions that are known as the biggest flower growing area of the state.
The flowers that are grown in this region and are needed in Durga puja are rose, marigold, tuberose and balsam.
According to the farmers, the problem is there is no time to grow plants that can produce flowers. The puja is in the last week of September. Worse, the meteorological department has predicted more rains.
“The fields are still waterlogged. We can’t plant saplings before the water drains out. The saplings take about two months to come to maturity and produce flowers. So there is just no time to supply for the pujas this year,” said Narayan Nayek, secretary of East Midnapore district flower cultivation traders association.
“It is not possible to plant saplings till the water runs off and fields becoming relatively dry,” said K Bag, district horticultural officer of West Midnapore.
The flower cultivators of the two districts are also facing huge loss due to the inundation. The Durga pujas are usually a peak season for the flower market.
Due to the shortage, prices will rocket during the pujas. The price of flowers have already risen twice the levels prevailing in last week.
In East Midnapore district alone, flower cultivation has been affected in more than 1, 500 hectares, or 2,100 standard football fields.
“The area is known as the flower belt of Bengal. But we are not in a situation to supply flowers in the puja time. Last week we sold marigold at the rate of R 60 per kg. Now, we are selling it at R 120--130 ,” said Dipak Mal, a flower grower of Panskura.
The cultivators of the area are now trying to find a way out of the financial mess the inundation has landed them in. “I took a loan of about R 50,000 through Kishan Credit Card, but the rains have put me in great trouble. I don’t know what would I do now.” said Arup Samanta, a flower cultivator.
Goutam Panja borrowed money from a local lender expecting to repay after making a profit in the festive season. “I do not know how to pay back. There is just no way the plants are going to yield any flowers this season,” he said.
“The plants rot if the water stands for a long time. If the seeds are of good quality, then there might be less loss. Otherwise, very little can be salvaged,” said Amitava Nayek, a professor of Botany.