Bhaderwah: After successfully venturing into exotic lavender farming, it is the turn of marigold cultivation that is rapidly changing the fortunes of the farmers in this picturesque valley of Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district.
As many as 500 families in the Kellar valley have switched from traditional maize and paddy to growing different shades of yellow coloured marigold in a big way and are exporting 200 quintals of the produce per day to Jammu since June this year.
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 a huge demand for the flower used in every pooja (worship).
The farmers are happy over their decision in the backdrop of ever increasing demand as the supply from plains gets dried up from May to November due to hot weather conditions. However, the same period becomes favourable in Bhaderwah for the yellow flowers to bloom.
The flower growers of Gajoth Panchayat in Kellar Valley who alone supply 100 quintals of marigold every day claimed that after switching to marigold farming, their income has increased four times and they are happy with their decision.
“We are thankful to the then chief executive officer of Bhaderwah Development Authority, Talat Parvez Rohella, who not only motivated and encouraged us to switch to flower farming in 2007 but also took us to a tour of Kashmir to understand the nuances and benefits of growing flowers commercially,” Hind Bhushan, member of Kissan Advisory Board.
He said it is because of his farsightedness that today 500 families of Kellar alone are growing marigold, thus becoming the largest suppliers of the flower to Jammu and Punjab during summers.
“Our income has increased four times,” Bhushan, a progressive farmer who ventured into growing Marigold for the past 14 years and an inspiration for his village, said.
The progressive farmers have also formed a cooperative so that they can manage hassle free supply of the flowers to the market according to the demand and without exploitation of the mediators.
“To reap maximum benefits and to cut the middlemen, we have formed a cooperative and have also bought a load carrier of our own for timely and smooth supply of our yield to the Jammu markets,” Devinder Kotwal, sarpanch of Gajoth Panchayat, said.
The womenfolk of Kellar Valley are a happier lot as they are not only reaping rich benefits but also enjoy and find it easy to work in marigold fields in comparison to that of maize or paddy fields.
“Things have changed for the good as the new generation, including my grand-daughters, happily work in marigold fields as they find it upmarket and a status symbol to grow flowers in comparison to maize and paddy.
“They proudly upload the videos and pictures while working in the flower fields. This is an encouraging sign and helpful as well,” Hardie (73), a farmer from village Khurwa, said.
The supply of the yellow flower from the hills starts from June up to Diwali festival which falls in the first week of November.
Earlier, the Bhaderwah was in news for the purple revolution which helped around 1,000 families during Covid inducted lockdown to earn their livelihood.