January Edition, Statewide, Tripura, NET Bureau, Pinaki Das
Tripura has come up as a potential floriculture hub which is not only giving good returns to farmers but is also generating employment for the people in the region. Farmers are choosing floriculture over paddy and vegetable cultivation. Endowed with fertile soil, abundant moisture and sub-tropical climate, the state offers immense scope for production of a wide variety of flowers.
Tripura known worldwide for its production of sweet pineapple and rubber is gradually making a mark in the floriculture sector. Following the success of floriculture business in states like Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya, Tripura has ventured into the business encouraging people to cultivate flowers. Changeover to floriculture by farmers in little Laxmibill village, in the newly formed Sepahijal district of Tripura, using the latest techniques has helped them improve their standard of living.
The credit for this trend is attributed to the growing demand of flowers around the globe, which in turn has inspired these villagers to switchover to floriculture from agriculture. Farmers have adapted the latest techniques in floriculture that have been made available to them by the state government under the Technology Mission. The allied agriculture department has not only provided farmers with free technical training in various forms of flower cultivation but also seedling, green house, fertilisers and other necessary materials.
Farmers associated with the flower business say they see tremendous business opportunity in it. Over 150 farmers of Laxmibill, 35 km away from state capital Agartala, are actively involved in the production and marketing of flowers. “We found that growing flowers is more beneficial than growing vegetables, flower is a more profitable item. I am into floriculture for the last five years. Initially we got the saplings a subsidized rate from the government and then we did it on our own,” said Chittaranjan, a floriculturist. Purba Laxmibill village has adopted floriculture in a scientific and systematic way, within a perspective time frame to generate sustainable level of income and employment opportunities in the village.
Apart from catering to the needs of the domestic market, the development of floriculture has also led to the expansion of business overseas especially due to its proximity to Southeast Asian countries. “For the last seven years I am into floriculture and have found that it is more profitable than growing vegetable or animal rearing. Initially I use to grow only marigold but now also produce tuberose, gladiolus, gerbera, anthodium, dahlia, aster and many other flowers. Now I have no problem in floriculture,” said Suman Paul, another floriculturist.
Paul saw huge potential of floriculture in the region and had undergone training in Sikkim. He was inspired to grow a variety of flowers including anthodium and orchids which not only has great demand just in Tripura but also in the overseas markets like Bangladesh, Holland etc. “In east Laxmibill, most of the farmers used to grow vegetables but now we have switched over to floriculture because it is more profitable. We grow different type of flowers and around 400 to 500 people are involved in this trade. Flower is more profitable and even a small garland cost more than Rs 5. Moreover, the risk factor in floriculture is also less. In floriculture even from a small piece of land one can get return of Rs 15,000 to 20,000 in a season,” said Jitendra Rudra Paul, another farmer. During the festive and marriage season the prices shoot up further. The flowers are sold at high rates in markets across the country and fetch more prices when exported outside.
The government has facilitated greenhouses for these floriculturists and Laxmibill has as of now 150 greenhouses and many more are coming up. “We are growing flowers through self help groups (SHG) and the state is helping us in it. Comparatively it is much more profitable then the vegetable business and so we prefer floriculture,” said Mrinal Sarkar, another farmer. Sarkar added, “Government has provided us free fertilizer, seeds and pesticides. Moreover, we also got training in floriculture which is a great benefit. Today everyone in Laxmibill is growing flowers because if you get Rs. 40,000 after growing vegetable in a piece of land then in the same land if flowers are grown you will get at least Rs 80,000.” In Laxmibill alone the total earnings of 150 farmers are more than twenty million rupees through the production and sale of flowers.
The horticulture wing of the state agriculture department is encouraging the farmers by giving regular training for getting in-depth knowledge about the field, free fertiliser, seeds and pesticides. “With an expense of Rs 20,000 a farmer can get a return of around Rs 70,000 to 80,000. They grow different types of flowers like marigold, gladiolus, gerbera, orchids and anthodium. Initially the agriculture department helped them with various trainings and under the DRDA department to formed SHG beside the farmers use to getting free fertilizers, seeds etc but no cash was provided. Every three months they got refresher training from the government. Here around 150 farmers’ family are involved in floriculture and annually the turnover is around 20 million,” said Dr DP Sarkar, director of the Agriculture department.
The farmers produce commercial varieties of flowers like flowers like gladiolus, gerbera, marigold, chrysanthemum, poppy, orchids and anthodium that after fulfilling the local market are sent outside. Santosh Dutta, a floral boutique owner said, “Earlier there were no business of flowers in Tripura and we use to get all flowers from Kolkata but now we get flowers which are grown here. Today flowers like orchid and anthodium are even exported.”
Seeing the success of Laxmibill, the government under the Technology Mission is on a regular basis organising training programmes on development of entrepreneurial skills among youths in the floriculture sector. Moreover, several flower shows are also organised to attract the youth toward floriculture. Demand for flowers, both conventional and ornamental has gone up, especially from institutional buyers like hotels, corporate houses and also owing to a change in the lifestyle of the local people. Of late the floriculture industry in India has been looking up. After liberalisation, the government of India identified floriculture as a sunrise industry and accorded it 100 percent export oriented status.