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Bengal’s flower village “Khirai” is generating alternate employment for farmers

5 March, 2021 11:19:34
Bengal’s flower village “Khirai” is generating alternate employment for farmers

Aparupa Basu is a freelance video editor and has a passion for travelling

If you have heard of the Valley of Flowers, high up in the Himalayas, you cannot miss the charm of West Bengal’s Khirai, where tracks of flowers of different hue will leave you mesmerised. Almost like a scene out of the Bollywood movie Silsila and the valley of Tulips. Khirai in East Midnapore boasts of stretched of farms that cultivate rose, marigold, chandramallika and gladiolas among many more. Around 3hrs drive from Kolkata or a 2hr train journey from Howrah, Khirai has generated enough employment in the past decade to farmers who have been looking out for alternative source of income.

As Pintoo Halder, a long-time flower and vegetable farmer of Khirai said: ‘During winter, production of flowers increase and this is the best time to witness blooming flowers.

Between November to March, the flower farmers of Khirai remain superb busy. This is the time when flowers are at full bloom and make this place picturesque as well as generate big time revenue for the horticulture farmers of Khirai. The women of the households not just sell the flowers but also various ornaments made out of flowers. There is a local wholesale market for flowers and vegetables in Khirai itself. 

Khirai in East Midnapore boasts of stretched of farms that cultivate rose, marigold, chandramallika and gladiolas among many more.

As Pintoo Halder, a long-time flower and vegetable farmer of Khirai said: ‘During winter, production of flowers increase and this is the best time to witness blooming flowers. The increase in the level of pollution is affecting the flower growth in recent years but the state government sends botanists from time to time to help us with advanced techniques so that the production remains constant.

According to the farmers, the flowers of Khirai are exported to all major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Bangalore. The flowers also find their way daily to Kolkata via trains and sold in the flower markets of the city.

But was pandemic months a desperate time for farmers? ‘Yes it was,’ said Minati Das who makes floral garlands. ‘There were hardly any buyers or tourists, but this winter many are coming and the sale is picking up,’ she added. 

Flower cultivation is the most significant economic activity in this region. According to the farmers, the flowers of Khirai are exported to all major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Bangalore. The flowers also find their way daily to Kolkata via trains and sold in the flower markets of the city. West Bengal’s Khirai has thus scripted a tale of floral sustenance for farmers who are looking for alternate source of income. 
 

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