Colourful Gerbera flowers has changed lives of small farmers in Kollegal Taluk, Chamarajanagar district. The farmers in the region are slowly switching over to growing Gerbera flowers, following drastic fall in prices of traditional crops such as sugarcane, mulberry, paddy and jower.
The farmers are growing red coloured gerbera flowers (stanza breed), white (blanace breed), yellow, Orange, dark and light pink in addition to maroon colour. This particular variety of colour is in much demand, sought by flower agents of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Few farmers are selling the harvested flowers directly at Kalasipalya Market in Bengaluru, which fetches them good money as there are no middlemen.
Speaking to Express, a farmer Mahesh of Kollegal Taluk who is growing Gerbera for the past two years said: 'Earlier, I was struggling hard to grow jowar with meager returns. For the past two years my turnover per annum has crossed more than Rs 60 lakh, which was just around Rs 50,000 earlier'.
'I own two acres of land. 'In an acre of land 24,000 plants can be planted, and an average of daily 3,000 to 4,000 flowers can be harvested daily. We normally maintain a calendar of forthcoming events to know the demand, while also study the market supply position and accordingly we harvest the flowers and sell. During festival, marriage season specially in Andhra Prades. We harvest more flowers. What brings happiness have provided employment for a couple of people in harvesting, packaging, and transportation section,' added Mahesh, who has completed his SSLC.
Another farmer Anand said: 'When we were growing vegetables we had a tough time to make ends meet. After switching over to growing gerbera there was a marked improvement in my lifestyle. Emulating my example, my neighbouring farmers are also coming forward to grow gerbera. Though initial investment is high, it requires less maintenance and once fully grown, we can harvest flowers for four to five years.'
'Mine is dry land and some suggested not to take up floriculture. I dug a borewell and luckily got water. By filling my land with 2 inch of Red Sand Soil and by adopting drip irrigation, I planted Gerbera which began to grow well and changed my fortunes. As I directly sell all the flowers in Kalasipalaya Market, I am able to earn more,' added farmer Shivu.
'We had never thought of an alternative crop until the havoc caused due to sudden change of weather, fall in price and related things. With switching over to this crops the farmers are taking diversion in the agriculture system followed by generations. The temperature in the green house can be controlled with change of weather. This is major advantage for us,' added Sunil.
Horticulture Department is also promoting the farmers to grow gerbera because of good demand in market. 50 per cent subsidy is given to general category, while 90 per cent for SC/ST.
H Shashidhar, Senior Assistant Director, Kollegal Taluk said that 50 per cent subsidy is being provided to general category, while 90 per cent for SC/ST. 'Red Soil, drip irrigation and green house is a must for growing gerbera. As the investment is high, not many farmers are keen. Still we are encouraging farmers in large numbers to take up the cultivation.'
'About 20 odd farmers are growing Gerbera in 16 acres of land at Gangara, Boodabalu and Kunnagali. Most of them, who have switched in the last two years were growing cane, mulberry from decades. With high investment, the farmers are lagging behind to take up the cultivation. Thus, we are promoting farmers with the help of farmers who are already growing Gerbera. Income, benefit, advantages and subsidy of growing Gerbera are informed to farmers. Another few farmers have come forward to take up cultivation in five acres of land. The flowers are sold from Rs 8 to Rs 15, depending on the market,' added the officer.