New Delhi: Brightly coloured roses, chrysanthemums, lilies, marigold and other flowers that might normally have been destined for marriage decoration and temples - are now being destroyed by growers in unprecedented manner as the rapidly spreading coronavirus brings demand to a standstill.
When people are seemingly keen to stockpile essential food items, flowers are the last thing on their mind.
Also, flower wholesale markets across the country are shut because of the 21-day lockdown announced to prevent the spread of coronavirus, affecting thousands of growers and traders associated with the floriculture business.
Currently, the government has given exemption from the lockdown rules for movement and distribution of only essential vegetables, fruits and other food items but not flowers.
"In such a situation, there is no option but to destroy. The survival of the industry is going to be tough as flowers are not essential commodity," Bengalure-based floriculturist Bollapally Srikanth told PTI.
Bollapally cultivates flowers like Rose, Gerbera, Carnation, Anthurium and Gypsophila in greenhouses in 35 acres land in Tubagere in Doddaballapura taluk, Bengaluru rural district. He employs about 250 labourers.
Srikanth, who distributes flowers across the country, has estimated about Rs 10 lakh per day loss due to the lockdown as he begins to dump millions of flowers in huge skips.
Sharing similar plight, another grower Prakash Chandra Shukla from Sidhi district, Madhya Pradesh said: "I have cultivated rose, marigold and dahlia in 3 acres to cater for festival demand of Ram Navami. Now I cannot sell it in the market due to the lockdown. I am feeding it to livestock and making compost".
Shukla, who has incurred a loss of Rs 1 lakh from his flower crop, said some people may want to buy flowers for doing puja at home but it would be difficult to supply in the wake of restriction on movement and social distancing.
Arjun Singh, a grower from Rohtak, Haryana, said lily flowers grown in 6 acres are ready for sale but are now being destroyed in farm fields and some dumped in garbage as there are no takers for it in the current difficult times.
"What will the government do? Flowers are not priority now for most people who are more worried about basic food. But farmers like us will suffer," he said.
Ajay Barua, a wholesale distributor of flowers in the national capital, said: "There is no demand for flowers anymore because of the coronavirus. Our business has come to a complete halt as five star hotels and event management companies have cancelled the orders".
Even unsold stock is rotting due to shutdown of both wholesale and retail markets, he added.
Meanwhile, Ghazipur Wholesale Flower Mandi Chairman Bijay Soni Sisodia said, "We are aware of the problems being faced by growers and traders. We are discussing with the Board members".
Even if restrictions are lifted on flower, it would be difficult to coordinate with traders getting supplies from different parts of the country during the current lockdown period, he said.
Traders bring flowers from major growing states like Karnataka, West Bengal and Rajasthan for sale in the Ghazipur mandi, one of the largest wholesale flower mandis in India.