The bright pink desi roses, which are used for nearly all holidays and pujas, are conspicuously absent from most flower marketplaces in cities, while the price of roses has reached Rs 800 per kg in major cities. Farmers in Charotar, where roses blossom abundantly, continue to rue a series of losses caused by the Covid-19 epidemic and, more recently, by the extended, irregular monsoon.
According to Ghanshyam Chauhan of Rel village in Anand district, rose farmers have suffered crop losses as a result of the region’s high rainfall in October. “Just as farmers were escaping from the cycle of losses that began with the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, with events cancelled due to the pandemic, the weather this year affected yield.” “Fields that would normally yield 50 kgs of roses during Diwali have yielded only one kg this season,” Chauhan says.
The majority of farmers in Rel village, which has approximately 50 bighas of rose farms, have been unable to cover their expenses.
Farmers claimed that flower sales had been continuous for two months during the holy month of Shravan as well as Navratras, with prices reaching Rs 200 per kg. Following that, prices in major cities rose to Rs 1,000 per kg.
Traders in Vadodara’s flower market are saving roses for garlands, which are valued per piece up to Rs 100. Marigold garlands with roses in between sell for up to Rs 50 per piece. While marigold costs Rs 50 per kg, roses can cost up to Rs 500 per kg.
“Customers pick up a variety of loose flowers along with garlands that generally have marigold and roses, but this time we are unable to supply loose roses because they are excessively expensive,” a dealer adds. Prices in Vadodara range from Rs 400 to Rs 500 per kg, whereas in locations such as Ahmedabad and North Gujarat, prices can range from Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per kilo.
Baroda village in Matar taluka of Kheda district, around 40 km from Rel village in Anand, has over 400 bighas of rose farms. However, this year has been a setback for farmers, with many skipping the rose season this monsoon. Kanu Rathod, a typical rose farmer, has sown castor seeds instead.
“Some of the village’s rose farmers have decided to skip a year or two after experiencing huge losses owing to the Covid-19 lockdown,” Rathod explains. The second wave that arrived this year, as well as the warning of a possible third wave to coincide with the holiday season, had us worried… This year, several of us did not plant roses during the monsoon…”
According to farmers, roses must be plucked at night and carried to the market early in the morning. “Roses die quickly. They lose value if they are not plucked at night and transported to the market by 4 a.m… Because the prices are so expensive, most buyers do not buy roses, and traders also buy in small quantities,” he adds.