Cuttack: There is nothing like the festival season for flower sellers in the Millennium City to show their ‘flower-power’. Durga Puja and Dusshera is peak business time with the demand growing manifold. The flower sellers too multiply at this time with existing shops expanding in space and new ones mushrooming almost overnight.
There are nearly 300 flower retailers and 20 wholesalers in the city and this is the time their business booms with the demand for ‘mandar’ (garlands), roses, ‘rajnigandha’ and many others shoots up. Everyone is out to please the deity and show her indulgence.
Gap in supply and demand
But then the flower yield of flower growers in Nischintaloili, Ragnunathpur and Salipur near Cuttack is not sufficient for the city denizens. This is when the Kolkata traders step in to fill the gap. They have modern facilities to prevent flowers from wilting and they flood the Cuttack market with their produce.
Locally grown flowers are able to meet the 10 to 12 per cent of the daily requirement of Cuttack city. The supply slumps to 5 per cent to 6 per cent while the demand graph zooms 40 per cent to 50 per cent.
According to a rough estimate, even the smallest puja mandap requires 90 kg of flowers and the bigger ones may require even up to one quintal or more (both garlands and loose flowers).
“Apart from the puja committees, which need flowers in bulk, some households also have grand puja celebrations. To meet this extra demand, we also get flowers from Bengaluru, Pune and Andhra Pradesh apart from Kolkata,” said a wholesaler.
“The maximum demand is for six days from Ashtami to Ekadashi, when the deity is immersed. This is time that dependence on the Kolkata market grows,” said a retailer.
An official of the Horticulture Department, Cuttack estimates that the annual turnover of flower trading in the city is nearly Rs 70 lakh. The local produce accounts for only about Rs 10 lakh.
The major reason for the local produce not being able to meet the huge demand during Durga Puja is the season. While marigold seeds yield flower only after the puja is over i.e. November to July, roses bloom from the end of October till August.
In this scenario, Kolkata has an edge due to its organised flower industry, its state-of-the-art facilities and a very good supply chain. This makes it easier for the suppliers here to cater to the market demand in any season.
Artificial price rise
This is an ideal time for retailers and wholesalers to make a quick buck. Cashing-in on the supply-demand gap, the prices of flowers are jacked up. During festival time, a buyer ends up paying the price of six flowers for purchasing one flower. If wholesalers in Kolkata jack up their prices, it naturally has an effect on the Cuttack market where flower sellers make most of the ‘occasion’.