A Bed of Roses in Drought-Prone Solapur
Khandoba Farmer Producer Company, with 385 members, has empowered farmers to grow roses in semi-arid Solapur district of Maharashtra. The FPO offers a minimum support price to buy roses and also daily produces 1,000 litres of gulab jal.
Shrinivas Deshpande 4 Feb 2023 5:58 AM GMT
Wadji (Solapur), Maharashtra
Maruti Kamble had been traditionally cultivating soybean and jowar (sorghum) in his four-acre land. In 2019, the farmer from Wadji village in Solapur district of Maharashtra decided to grow desi roses on half an acre of his four-acre land.
Ever since, the happy farmer has been earning Rs 1.5 lakh profit annually. Now Kamble plans to bring the rest of his land under rose cultivation too and says that might help him earn as much as Rs 5 lakh as profit every year.
Cultivating soybean and jowar in his drought prone village hardly gave Maruti any profit. “But now in rose farming we have a harvest every day and with it is the chance to earn money on a daily basis,” the farmer told Gaon Connection.
Maruti made the change to rose cultivation after he became a member of the Khandoba Farmer Producer Company (KFPC). He is one of the 385 farmers who are members of this company, which was formed as a part of Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project (MACP) run by Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) in 2014.
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An outcome of the desi rose cultivation has been the gulab jal initiative of KFPC that set up a gulab jal project in Wadji village of Solapur. Launched in 2016, the initiative provides Minimum Support Price (MSP) assurance to the rose growers in the village. The World Bank provided financial assistance of Rs 13.5 lakh. KFPC has capacity to daily produce 1,000 litres of gulab jal [rose water] through this project.
According to Vikram Phutane, assistant technology manager at Solapur's ATMA, “The Gulab Jal Project has provided some protection to the farmers, especially when the markets are down. We provide technical support required for KFPC, and are confident this will double the income of the Wadji farmers.”
KFPC has also decided to make value-added products like gulkand. “If the rose prices drop drastically to below twenty rupees a kilogram, the company purchases all produce at a fixed rate of Rs 20 per kilo to make gulab jal and gulkand,” said Parmeshwar Kumbhar, chairperson of KFPC. This would not only save farmers during market crashes but also give them an opportunity to focus on value added products, he said.
Kumbhar added that there are plans to manufacture incense sticks too.
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Increased earnings through rose cultivation
Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project is a World Bank assisted project designed to increase productivity, profitability, and market access through agro related infrastructure and post harvest management techniques. MACP along with ATMA helped farmers like Maruti Kamble from Wadji village streamline rose cultivation strategies and establish backward and forward market linkages.
Maruti, and other farmers like him, attended several sessions facilitated by ATMA on modern agro-practices. During the lockdown there were video lecture sessions, provided by ATMA on the adoption of best practices of plant diseases and pest control.
According to Ramesh Mhatre, another farmer from Wadji village, rose cultivation was a much better alternative to cattle farming. “Farmers can easily earn a lot more with a lot less effort,” he said. According to him there is no other crop that gives the farmer an opportunity to earn for at least 320 days a year. “For many of us, growing roses has ensured an earning of anything from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per day,” Mhatre added.
Roses bloom almost throughout the year, except during the pruning season. Farmers such as Maruti and Mhatre claim that each acre yields anything between 50 kg to 100 kg of roses per day depending upon the number of bushes. Every day over 10 tonnes of roses valued at Rs 10 lakh are sold in Solapur market, the rates ranging from Rs 50-100 per kg.
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The roses can be put to good use in Solapur that is home to many iconic temples like Swami Samarth Temple in Akkalkot, Lord Vitthal temple in Pandharpur, Shri Siddheshwar Temple in Solapur, Mata Tuljabhavani Temple in Tuljapur,Gurudev Datta Temple Gangapur Karnataka, besides several holy mosques, dargahs and revered tombs. This creates a huge daily demand for rose flowers.
KFPC has also taken upon itself to create awareness amongst people to stop wasting rice during wedding ceremonies. It has come up with an eco-friendly option of using rose petals instead. As part of its drive, KFPC provided free flower petals at several wedding venues for people to shower them on the newlyweds.
Chairperson Kumbhar is confident that this initiative too will help the cause of roses in the district. Ultimately, Kumbhar said, the intention was to convert Wadji into an agro-tourism spot. In the past year and a half, 250 school children have visited Wadji to see the roses grow in a drought-prone region.
This story has been done as part of a partnership with NABARD.