Gujarat government’s floriculture initiative has killed two birds with one stone. Not only has it improved the lives of village migrants by increasing their incomes 10 times, but has also helped the workers to afford education for their children. The Scheduled Tribes population of Dahod district in east Gujarat, were earlier employed as casual labourers in Gujarat cities, but now cultivate rose and marigolds. The same has skyrocketed their monthly incomes by up to 10 times, The Indian Express reported.
"My current monthly income is Rs 1-1.5 lakh, more than 10 times what I used to get in the city. And I employ two labourers," Gesuben Parmar, a farmer from Dahod, told the national daily. Gesuben Parmar has been employed in rose cultivation for six years now and harvests 20,000-30,000 pieces a month. "In normal times, they fetch anywhere between 20 paise per rose, if I sell to wholesale flower vendors, and Rs 10 if it is to passerby customers on the main road. In festival time such as Navratri, Diwali and Ganesh Puja, the rates can go up to Rs 20-40," he added.
Further, the disposable income from roses and marigold cultivation has also helped these farmers to send their children to schools, many of them being first-generation school goers. "My husband and I couldn't study and nor could our son, as we were always on the move from one site to another. But now, my grandchildren are going to school," a 56-year-old, a person from Pateliya adivasi community said. She and her husband were both migrant workers before but now own their own farm.
A small interior village in Dahod Limkheda taluka called Kamboi, has also witnessed one-third of its inhabitants switching to floriculture. Of 300 households in Kamboi, over 100 adivasi entrepreneur-farmers have switched from dryland crop agriculture to cultivating roses, marigolds and chrysanthemum.
Gujarat government had initiated these workers to floriculture by giving Rs 30,000 subsidy from horticulture department. The subsidy covers the initial investment on field preparation, seedlings and planting. The farmers were also imparted formal training from officials of the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA).
However, what really drew farmers to floriculture is the fact that unlike crop cultivation which is risk-prone due to hilly geographical terrain, water scarcity and small landholdings, floriculture produce year worth of yields and also needs less water. "Floriculture, unlike maize and other crops, requires less water and also yields produce round the year, helping farmers realise higher incomes," N.V. Rathwa, deputy director of the ATMA at Dahod, said, The Indian Express reported.