Surat farmers venture into flower farming

April 15th, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by admin  

By P.S. Anantharaman
Surat, April 15 (IANS) Surat, known for its beautiful textiles and dazzling diamonds, is now venturing into a new business - flower farming. Farmers from the region say the new generation among them is very enthusiastic about growing and marketing flowers. “There are now 60 green houses in the district” and more are keen to make a foray into the sector, said Kaushik Patel, a farmer in Bajipur village, who is also a graduate in marketing management.

Most of the farmers are growing what they call “gerbera” flowers. Some others have ventured into rose farming for more earnings.

Patel is busy setting up an organisation of flower growers in Surat district. “This is necessary to resolve the problems the growers face”, Patel told IANS.

Patel said the state government was giving a fillip to horticultural development and offering a six percent interest subsidy. This has motivated many young farmers to venture into floriculture. They had obtained loans from the Surat District Cooperative Bank.

However, the Gujarat Agro Industries Corp (GAIC) has thrown a spanner in the works. The GAIC, the nodal agency for food processing and horticulture development, is opposed to individual farmers getting interest waiver from the cooperative banking sector.

Patel said: “We met the managing director of the corporation and had detailed talks with the government authorities. Individual farmers are eligible to get interest subsidy from any financial institution. We are awaiting the decision of the corporation.”

He said the farmers were now sending their flowers to Delhi, Mumbai and Indore. Some of them have also tried to export the flowers to markets like Japan, New Zealand and Australia. If adequate financial support is provided, Surat flowers could be effectively marketed abroad.

According to him, reefer vans are necessary to take flowers to Mumbai or Delhi by road. Once they reached the destination, the flowers could stay afresh for at least one week at room temperatures, he added.

However, for the business to succeed, one needs to grow large quantities of flowers. “That’s where financial assistance becomes important,” Patel said.

Currently, flowers are packed in boxes and sent to Delhi by super fast trains that originate from Mumbai. But flower growers have to compete with textile producers to get space.

“A group of flower growers recently met Minister of State for Railways Naranbhai J. Rathwa, who hails from the newly constituted Tapi district of Gujarat, and sought his intervention. Rathwa has asked the Western Railway authorities to extend all help to the farmers,” Patel said.

If the state government encourages the floriculture business with vigour, Surat flowers will make their presence anywhere on the globe, said Patel.

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