Indian farmers quit maize farming to grow marigold

Around 520 families of the Kellarh Valley in Jammu and Kashmir’s hilly Bhaderwah town have gradually quit maize farming in a span of 12 years and turned to marigold cultivation. According to the villagers, their new "cash crop" is giving them an income five times more than what they used to get from the traditional maize crop.

“Maize crop grown over one Kanal of land would give us an income of around Rs 5,000-6,000, whereas our farmers are now earning Rs 25,000 to 30,000 from the sale of 6-8 quintals of flowers grown over the same land area,” says Mohammad Iqbal, one of the farmers of the Kellarh Valley.

Iqbal, who grows marigold crop along with apples, garlic, and other cash crops over an area of around 10 Kanals was recently awarded by Rameswar Teli, the Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Petroleum and Natural Gas, when the latter was in the town to attend a “public outreach program”.

The marigold crop was brought to the scenic Kellarh Village of Bhaderwah town in 2009 by the then-created Bhaderwah Development Authority (BDA).

Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) officer, Talat Parvez Rohella, Commissioner Secretary, Hospitality and Protocol Department, Jammu and Kashmir Government, who is credited for introducing the flower crop in the region when he was posted as CEO Bhaderwah Development Authority (BDA), says, “Way back in 2009, we distributed Nasturtium flower seeds to the farmers of Kellarh under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).”

The government program RKVY has now been renamed ‘Remunerative Approach for Agriculture and Allied Sector Rejuvenation’.

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