Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Flower merchant Bablu, who operates in the largest Purvanchal flower market in Varanasi, was surprised when the vendor sitting next to him left his garlands in Bablu and left for his home. “Sell those garlands and keep whatever you get. I’m tired of sitting here since morning and not selling a single garland, ”he told me, Bablu told Gaon connection.
“Our business has collapsed to the point that we are facing starvation. We can’t even recoup the costs, forget to make a profit. Besides Corona, the rain also hit our business. Soaked flowers don’t sell, ”Bablu said.
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The flower trade has collapsed across the country in the wake of the pandemic. This is the second year in a row that the demand for flowers has been lower during the wedding season (March-May). In addition, places of worship also remained closed.
Those who grow flowers and all other flower professionals are wondering how to make ends meet. In many cities, a significant number of people are associated with the flower trade. Their source of income diminished or disappeared overnight. And one city where this is very visible is Kashi, also known as Varanasi.
Booming business to nothing
Varanasi, the city of ghats and bustling streets, has thousands of temples. In some places all the other houses have a temple. Every day flowers worth several thousand rupees are used here. Now it has stopped abruptly.
“Temples and mosques have all but been closed due to the Corona rules. Although weddings do take place, they are held with many restrictions. The money we make these days is barely enough to buy dal and roast,”Sudama Devi, who sells garlands and flowers to Kisan Phool Mandi, said Gaon connection.
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Sudama Devi, 46, is a resident of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency. “No government takes our situation seriously,” she complained.
Flowers are rotting in large quantities in Varanasi market due to lack of demand. They all find their way to the trash cans.
Even in January of last year, traders in the kisan mandi did Rs 25 lakh business every day. “Now that’s a measly seven to eight rupees lakh,” said Vishal Dubey, manager. “The small traders in this region went bankrupt because of the near closure of the temple. Even though the temples are open for a short time, relatively few people visit, and the flower sellers near the temples suffer losses. It has even become increasingly difficult for them to cover the cost of their inputs, ”he added.
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From 280 to 40 quintals of flowers per day at Kashi Vishwanath temple
The volume of flowers used in the pre-pandemic times in the world famous Kashi Vishwanath temple was over 200 quintals. “The temple consumed anywhere up to two hundred and eighty quintals of flowers a day. This has fallen to only forty quintals a day, ”said Vishal Singh, secretary of the Varanasi Development Authority.
This drop in activity has affected workers and gardeners who collect flowers from the gardens and sell them to turn them into garlands. “The flower garland business is running at around 80% loss due to the Corona crisis,” said Lalu Rajbhar, 32, who has been selling garlands and flowers for 10 years.
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Holding a garland of marigold flowers, he said: “We were barely surviving under the Corona restrictions and the rain increased our misery. This is the first time in ten years that something like this has happened. He said that feeding his family and educating his four children seemed impossible to him.
Speaking of declining sales of garlands and flowers, ”Rajbhar explained to Gaon connection that it didn’t help that what was available was “too expensive”. “Currently, the temples are closed most of the time. No one also orders a large quantity of flowers for weddings. The mandi remains closed on Saturdays and Sundays due to a weekly curfew. How will we win? asked Rajbhar, who earns barely Rs 300 to Rs 400 a day, less than half of his pre-pandemic income.
Business center, now withered
Traders from all over Purvanchal, including Gorakhpur, Deoria, Mau, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, and Azamgarh, come to the Varanasi Farmers’ Flower Market to purchase flowers and garlands. Marigold flowers usually came from Kolkata.
“Our business has declined significantly since the announcement of the Corona restrictions. Flower growers don’t know where to go to sell garlands and flowers as the administration eased restrictions on all markets except the flower market. Are only those who raise vegetables farmers? Those who grow flowers are also farmers, ”said Vishal Dubey, 37, director of Kisan Phool Mandi. Gaon connection.
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As the situation improved somewhat, Dubey said that “the efforts did not even meet half of the list of traders’ expectations.”
According to the report of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, in the year 2019-2020, 323,000 hectares of aromatic and medicinal flowers were cultivated and 3,000,000 metric tons were grown. been harvested.
According to the first estimate anticipated for 2020-2021, the cultivated area has decreased to 318,000 hectares and production is estimated at 2,793,000 metric tonnes.
The flower trade is calculated both in weight and in number. Vishal Dubey said 20,000 to 25,000 marigolds, 15,000 to 20,000 tuberoses, 25,000 to 30,000 belas, and four quintals of roses are the usual items requested daily. However, compared to the previous year, this year barely 25 percent of traders came to buy goods.
Read the original story in Hindi here.