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Roses Are Blooming In Bangalore
From Vegetables To Roses
The saying ‘life always finds its way’ seems to have come true in the case of rose growers in the villages of Hoskote taluk (Bangalore Rural district). Despite the severe water crisis, they have been able to rake in the moolah. It is now a life of regular income and comfort for these farmers who are cultivating new varieties of roses, requiring less water. Farmers in the villages around Hoskote - once a well-known vegetable and floriculture belt - had to abandon their fields due to severe water scarity. The liberalisation era of the mid-90s witnessed massive change in land use in the region. The real estate boom which followed resulted in mass sale of agriculture land and encroachment of water bodies. This resulted in a drastic fall in the water table, affecting small and marginal farmers. When cultivation of water intensive crops like vegetables and flowers seemed impossible, the State Horticulture Department introduced the growers to small varieties of roses. They now sell their produce to neighbouring states. “There are three high-yielding varieties of roses - Karisma, five star and ruby red. They are in great demand in temples and to make garlands. These can be used for all purposes (mariage to cremation) both here as well as in the neighbouring states,” said a horticulture officer here. On large scale A visit to Alappanahalli, Ulsahalli, Upparhalli, Kumbalahalli, Kurubarahalli, Kolathur, Sonadahalli, Sompur and Kalhalli around Hoskote, shows that cultivation of roses is taking place on a large scale. The flowers are transported to places of religious importance in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. According to farmers, most of the flowers cultivated here are sent to Tirupathi under contract farming. “It is a short-term contract between the contractor and farmer - a farmer gets between Rs 45 to Rs 60 per kg of flowers, irrespective of the fluctuating price at which the contractor sells them,” said a senior horticulture officer on condition of anonymity.
These varieties of flowers, according to farmers, grow with very less water when compared to vegetables they cultivated earlier. Depleted water table “We used to cultivate vegetables which required watering every day. But the water table depleted abysmally in these parts. So, the farmers took to rose cultivation, which has proved to be a windfall. I earn between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per day,” said Yelappa, a farmer from Ulsahalli.
Subrayappa, another farmer, said these varieties of roses - unlike the Dutch rose variety grown earlier - needed very little water. “Even if we water the plants once a week through drip irrigation, it is sufficient,” he said. In some villages, where the water crisis is severe, the sewage water is used for the plants. These miniature rose varieties are cultivated on small patches of land and the entire family is involved in the cultivation. The farmers prune the plants to a height of three to four feet, so that harvesting becomes easy. Their work begins at 5.30 am and the flowers are dispatched to the junction, where they are weighed and loaded onto mini lorries numbering over 50, to be transported to neighbouring states before 7.30 am. The payment is made to the farmers once in 15 days. “Each farmer earns between Rs 25,000 to Rs 45,000 depending on the size of the land he owns,” said a horticulture officer. The horticulture department is encouraging the farmers by giving a subsidy of Rs 14,000 per acre, under the new area expansion scheme.
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