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Sind. Pakistan.

The worsening law and order situation, persistent water shortage and hot weather have caused problems for the rose growers in Sindh’s biggest Hatri Gardens. Owing to these reasons, the production of roses has been badly affected, while some of the rose growers have not planted roses in almost 400 acres of land this year.

It is feared that if the situation continues, then other growers may also not plant roses in future. “Recently, rose traders could not enter the Karachi flower markets due to the law and order situation and they had to return disappointed,” said 70-year old rose grower Khan Mohammed Sial. It was a huge loss that the local rose traders faced in the recent past because violence erupted in Karachi all of a sudden over the killing of a political activist and the traders were left with no choice but to return to their villages with trucks full of roses, he said. Looking at the situation, many growers have replaced rose gardens with banana orchards, while others are condering better options because cultivating rose plants is no more attractive to traditional farmers.

Comparing the labour and cultivation cost, Sial said that rose gardens needed proper care and timely water. “It does not need more labour. It needs lower cost for cultivating as compared to banana and other crops. But since it is the most sensitive crop, it needs moderate weather for growing.” Apart from this, he said, traditional farmers had a long experience of rose cultivation. They take proper care of these plants, maintain water supply and explore better options for marketing of these plants. It is hard for them to cultivate alternative crops but despite fears and challenges, they are opting to cultivate other crops, he added.

The flower, especially red rose, has been a symbol of love and beauty due to its catching colours, variety and odor. However, the farmers are experiencing tough situation in terms of deteriorating law and order in urban centers, water shortage and changing weather pattern, which have compelled them to find alternative crops for cultivation. Tracing the history of declining trend of rose cultivation, he said that few years back, the area growers experienced water shortage and many of them cleaned rose plants. Otherwise, he said the land is fertile for rose cultivation. There were more flower gardens along the National Highway, Matiari and Hyderabad districts. Hatri was considered a major market of roses of different varieties some years back. The traders used to come daily to get 40—45 truckloads of roses to transport them to different buyers in Karachi. The growers said that they are currently producing not more than 30 parcels for the market due to water shortage. Some of the farmers, who have installed tube wells on diesel, said that the rose growing business has become costlier than before. Mohammed Saleh, another farmer stated that during May to July, rose cultivation usually decreases from 5 to 10 percent. For instance, he said during January and March, farmers get 40—60 kg of roses per acre, while during June and July they get hardly two-five kg per acre. But, he said, the rates increases from Rs25-30 per kg in the winter season to Rs70-75 in the dry summer season. He said that roses cannot be kept for more than two to three days. “We pick roses early in the morning and supply them to the markets within three to four hours,” he described. In Karachi, he said, they use ice to keep roses safe. But in local markets like Hyderabad, buyers strictly dislike use of ice. Therefore, the shopkeepers have to keep them in open warehouses. According to the farmers, rain is always favourable for rose crop and its production. Qadir Bakhsh Mallah, a local grower and trader said that presently the rose product is being supplied to Karachi from Punjab,Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of Balochistan, because there is favourable weather as compared to Sindh.

 

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