IN: Rain flattens flower fields just before busy Puja season

Around 2,340 hectares of flowers cultivated in East and West Midnapore districts were reportedly destroyed amid heavy showers triggered by low pressures in the Bay of Bengal since last week. The twin Midnapores are Bengal's chief districts for flower cultivation and export, producing varieties of marigold, tuberose (rajnigandha), jasmine varieties such as juhi and beli, and rose. 

Nearly 1,500 hectares are estimated to have been destroyed in East Midnapore and almost 840 hectares in West Midnapore. Roughly 40,000 flower vendors and cultivators in East and West Midnapore have been affected. Coastal districts, including North and South 24-Parganas, also bore the brunt of the rain, destroying acres of flowers.

The immediate fallout is a crunch in supply and an imminent rise in flower prices, with Durga Puja only days away. 

The Puja season is considered to be the lifeblood of flower cultivators in Bengal." "Flowers are mainly harvested in two phases, after the monsoon, and in winter. It looks like the rain is set to ruin both," said a member of the Bengal Florists and Vendors" Association. By the end of the year, the losses would be no less than Rs 15 crore, he added. 
Deputy director of horticulture in East Midnapore, Swapan Sheet, said the district would be awaiting instructions from the state government regarding compensation to florists and farmers. Sheet added most cultivators take loans for land lease and saplings." "Both these assets have been destroyed," said Sheet.

Tapan Kar, a flower cultivator of Degra in West Midnapore, who planted an acre of rajnigandha in June, discovered last Saturday that all his farmland lay underwater.  Tapan said he had no saplings or money left." "The only way out for small farmers is state help," he said.

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