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5 Dec 2016

Few are saying it with flowers - Demonetisation takes toll on petal producers

Cows eat unsold flowers at a garbage dump at the Kolaghat flower market.
(Jahangir Badsa)
ANSHUMAN PHADIKAR, TT, Tamluk, Dec. 4: The Prime Minister should be happy: even flowers are being replaced by the plastic variety - the exemplary choice in the era of demonetisation.
Traders dealing with flower farmers in East and West Midnapore, whose produce help stock up Bengal's biggest petal market at Mullickbazar in Howrah, have said demand has halved as people are scrimping on the decoration bill for weddings and other social events. Some are making do with plastic flowers.
"What to do? People do not have adequate cash in hand. Those organising weddings and other social events are cutting down on their flower-decoration budgets. The demand for flowers has come down by almost 50 per cent," said Narayan Nayek, the general secretary of the Sara Bangla Phool Chashi O Phool Byabsayee Samiti.
The two Midnapore districts have around 26,000 flower farmers - 18,000 of them in East Midnapore alone. The farmers gather every day at the markets in Kolaghat and Panskura, where traders from Howrah buy their produce.
"Flowers are also sent to places like Delhi, Mumbai, Assam and Rajasthan. But there is no demand from these places too," Nayek said.
Malina Maity, a Debra resident who married off her daughter on November 25, said: "Before demonetisation was announced, I had kept Rs 50,000 aside to decorate the house with flowers for my daughter's marriage. Then we brought it down to Rs 25,000. The money spent on flowers was only Rs 4,000. The decorator saved the day by supplying me plastic flowers."
Prahlad Maity, a flower farmer in Kolaghat, said: "I have been growing flowers for 40 years. But I have never seen the demand dip like this in the wedding season. The Prime Minister's announcement has severely affected our business."
Prahlad's son Ganesh said he and many others had specifically cultivated marigold and chrysanthemum as November was the wedding season.
"But it is very different this time. A month ago, I sold 100 pieces of marigold garlands for Rs 800 to Rs 1,000. Now I am being forced to sell 100 marigold garlands for Rs 300," Ganesh said.
Horticulture officer Sufal Chandra Mondal said he planned to send a report to the horticulture department on the crisis.

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