FANI EFFECT ON FARMERS
A day after Fani hit Bengal, the number of farmers harvesting flowers, who come to the Howrah flower market, took a hit. SK Rajesh, 42, has been growing roses for 20 years now in Panskura. On Saturday, he went down to the Howrah flower market. “Many didn’t show up due to a sense of fear. Low turnout led to a shortage of supplies. That’s why a bouquet of roses that usually cost €50 went up to €80 on Saturday.” , said Rajesh.
While Ashok had sold 100 roses for £60 on Friday, he jacked up the price to £100 for the same quantity a day later. “All the marigold flowers were destroyed in my field. I was lost when I woke up on Saturday morning. Since I couldn’t carry the usual amount in Kolkata, I decided to find a different solution to the problem. I managed to get flowers from the farmers in my neighborhood, who usually don’t travel to Kolkata, to sell their flowers,” Ashok added.
Adhir Mondal, who owns a field measuring 1.5 bighas in Bhangar, lost most of the 12,000 marigold plants after Fani hit Bengal. “I came to the Howrah flower market again with what was left in my field. However, most flowers are wet and discolored. That is why it is difficult to sell them,” Adhir said.
CHAOS IN THE AIR
According to flower seller Raghunath Patra, most of the farmers did not come because of the transportation problem. “Most stores are closed. Sidewalk vendors sell flowers. Most of the flowers including marigold, tuberose and hibiscus come from Midnapore, Nadia and Bhangar. These areas had faced Fani’s wrath. Vendors who had left before Fani struck did not return with flowers on Saturday,” Raghunath said.
Sona Sashmal, who has a shop at Howrah Flower Market, said prices fluctuated on Saturday. “Lotus prices have gone from ‘100 to ‘400 for a 25 pack,” Sona said.
THE POWER OF PETALS AT RALLIES
Swapan Burman, deputy chairman and secretary of the organizing committee of the government-run Mallick Ghat flower market, said there was always a good demand for flowers at political rallies. “Being the largest flower market, we have to meet this demand. But more than political gatherings, there is a demand for temples and homes where deities are worshiped daily. There are occasional orders, but not to the point of making a huge difference to flower market store revenue,” Swapan said.
As for the power of polling flowers, sellers admit that the lotus has suddenly gained prominence. “I have been selling flowers at Howrah Market for 22 years. The sale of lotus has greatly increased now. Lotus was never in demand before the BJP government came to power,” said Ashok Kumar Shankar, a flower seller at Howrah market.
At Lake Market, vendors aren’t exactly busy consolidating orders from political parties, but they have admitted to holding special sale days over the past month. “The TMC tiranga maala is in demand. So far I have received five such orders,” said Sushil Mistry, a vendor from Lake Market, adding, “These are never ready to go. When such orders arrive, we prepare them with orange genda (marigold), white rajnigandha (tuberose) and jhau pata. An eight-foot garland sells for 3,000.
Another Lake Market vendor, who did not want to be named, admitted to receiving eight orders for tiranga garlands last month. “They are about 8 to 12 feet and cost between 1,200 and 10,000. The bouquets cost between `300 and `1,000 each. About 12 of these bouquets have been sold in the past month. On a big sell day involving rally orders, we earned 5,000 more than other days.
FANI IMPACT ON RALLY GARLANDS AND BOUQUETS
As the last stage of the campaign is in full swing, will this shortage have an impact on the supply of netas’ petals and garlands? “Even if the quantum of loss is small, it will still have an impact. Some sell flowers near the ghats, but most of them are spoiled and therefore have no takers,” Swapan said.
Meanwhile, the city’s wedding planners are also preparing to deal with the crisis. Wedding planner Neha Agarwal usually relies on Kolkata’s markets for marigold and tuberose. “We have to bear the weight of the orders we have already committed to customers. We are now paying out of our own pockets to source flowers from Bengaluru. While we had to pay `1 to get a rose locally, after Fani we have to pay `15 to `20 for an imported piece. Therefore, for future orders, we are raising prices,” Neha said.