Bhaderwah farmers strike gold with marigold

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Bhaderwah, Aug 22: Excessive rains may have dashed the hopes of good harvest of traditional maize and pear fruit in many villages in Chenab sub-region but farmers in Killar valley of Bhaderwah have struck gold with a bumper crop of marigold this season.

Five hundred progressive farmers of Gajoth, Southa, Malothi, Duggli, Khellani, Trown and Panjgrainpanchayats of picturesque Killar valley, who shifted from traditional food crop to marigold have managed to money by cultivating these flowers in around 150 acres.

“After much resistance to shift from the age-old traditional ways of agriculture, farmers here have finally switched to marigold cultivation as it is a cash crop which fetches us instant money by selling our produce in the city of temples-Jammu,” explained Hind Bhushan, national-award winning farmer and member 'Kissan Advisory Board.'

“We started cultivating marigold in 2007 on a very small scale, but the shift from traditional crop took off at a large scale after Ministry of Science and Technology stared Flori-Mission a couple of years back,” Hind Bhushan said, adding, "This year, for the last three months, we have been meeting 80 percent of the consumption worth Rs one crore in Jammu market, thereby increasing our income four times.”

The successful farmers of GajothPanchayat, have set up a small cooperative (Killar Fruit Vegetable and Flowers Cooperative Society) on their own, near Khurva village, doing away with the concept of middlemen and reaped profits on their own.

“By switching to Floriculture, we have not only doubled our income as desired by the Prime Minister, in fact with our hard work and timely help from DrJitendra Singh, our income has increased by 4 times,” said DevinderKotwal, SarpanchGajoth.

“One acre of cultivation yields at least 3,200 kg of flowers. These are sold within a couple of days soon after plucking in the season,” Kotwal added.

Farmers said that after patronage of Union Minister for State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh, they took the Flori-mission on the pattern of successful Lavender cultivation, which made Bhaderwah, the capital of Lavender in India.

“We are determined to repeat the success of Purple revolution and have already shown positive results by growing Marigold, Gladiolus, TagetesMinuta and Lilium to make Bhaderwah – the Valley of flowers as desired by the Minister,” said TouqeerBagban (32), a progressive farmer and young entrepreneur from Bhaderwah.

Women are also the happier lot, as the find growing marigold much easier and nerve soothing in comparison to traditional maize and paddy crops.

“We have fallen in love with this work. Not only are we reaping the benefits of growing beautiful flowers but working in marigold fields makes us happier as well,” said Filma Devi (47), from Gajoth village.

One factor that immensely favours the farmers of this hilly region with comparatively cold climate than the plains is that the yield starts in the middle of the summers when supply from plains completely stops due to very high temperature.

The supply of the yellow flower from the hills starts from June up to Diwali festival, which falls in the first week of November.

Another factor that has favoured the farmers is the flower’s sturdiness. It withstood the ravages of unseasonal rains, which flattened other food and fruit crops.

The yellow-coloured marigold flower is a key ingredient of all festivals of Hindu religion and Jammu, being the city of temples with a footfall of hundreds of devotees every day, there is huge demand for the flower used in every religious ritual.

Widely used in religious rituals as well as to decorate houses during festivities, marigold is used in making garlands for vehicles during Dussehra, Diwali and ‘BestuVarash’ festivals.

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