Bright yellow marigolds are strewn across the street. A herd of cattle is feeding on them. Not grass or hay, locals in Haryana’s Jind are now buying these flowers to feed their cows.
Marigolds, Jasmine, Lillies, Roses – that are used in decoration at weddings and parties, and offered during prayers in temples, are now being destroyed by farmers as the nationwide lockdown to conatin the spread of coronavirus disrupted the flower industry.
Flower markets across the country are shut because of the 21-day lockdown, affecting thousands of growers and traders associated with the floriculture business.
“We are forced to throw flowers as waste. These were meant for God’s altar, especially during the festive season. But now cows are feeding on them. Villagers are taking them as cattle feed. It is a big blow to us as this was our only source of livelihood,” Sukhdev, a flower grower in Jind, says.
Sukhdev takes on lease one acre of land in Ahirka village for Rs 50,000 every year. “I used to earn a profit of Rs 30,000 after paying the expenses, but the lockdown came during peak season. It has destroyed everything,” he says.
Flowers such as Marigold, Jasmine, Lily among others are grown in Jind and other nearby districts of Haryana and are supplied across the state besides Punjab and Delhi.
Flower growers say none of them owns land and they work on a lease basis. So, there is no relief from lease rent, which is paid in advance.
“Normally rice and wheat are sown in Punjab and Haryana. State governments encourage us to grow different crops so that the soil gets replenished with its fertility. Flower farming is important from that point of view also,” Ramphal Khandela, another farmer, said.
“Now when our crop has been completely destroyed due to no demand anywhere, who will compensate us? I plead the state governments and the Prime Minister to keep in mind our interest also,” he says.
Many farmers said that they might shift to sowing vegetables because flower business has become very uncertain.