Jasmine loses its fragrance in Kerala

The heady fragrance of jasmine is fast fading during festivals and marriages in Kerala this season due to the unprecedented price hike making this flower unaffordable to a majority of the people.

Flower dealers say that a consumer has to shell out Rs 2,500 for a kg of jasmine, which was Rs 1,500-1,750 at the beginning of the season in the middle of November. The price during the peak season last year was Rs 850-1,000.

For a “muzham” (hardly one foot) of jasmine garland, which is used by women, costs Rs 65-70. A month back it was available for Rs 25-30 and for Rs 15-20 last year. “Several booking made two or three months back have been either cancelled or reduced. Instead of jasmine, customers are buying less priced “Pichi (Pichakam)” and even that will cost Rs1,000 a kg,’’ said Krishnakumar, a leading florist. “Demand has drastically come down. I am selling one-fourth quantity of jasmine of what I sold last year. But even to meet that demand, I am literally struggling since supply of the commodity from the producing centres to market does not match nowhere near the demand,’’ he said  

The daily demand is nearly 200 tonnes for the next six to seven month it was expected to be Rs 3,000-3,500 crore business at the present price. “But the figure is unlikely to be achieved as the quantity of supply and demand will be 20 to 30 per cent of the last year,’’ says Krishankumar.  

Jasmine sold in Kerala are mainly from the villages near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. This time harvest is poor in the villages mainly because of wide fluctuations in weather.   “This apart, a section of farmers had switched over to other crops,” Muthukrishnan, a farmer,  told Deccan Herald over phone. Though the state government made an effort to promote the bush jasmine farming to tap the huge market for flower, it has not succeeded.

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