Rekha Kumari of Aurraiya district in central Uttar Pradesh finds it difficult to hide her happiness. Just three years ago, she was struggling to earn two square meals in her village but ever since she shifted to floriculture, earnings have improved phenomenally.
Rekha Kumari now earns over Rs 15,000 per month. It all began in May 2006, when inspired by a floriculture exhibition and fair at the Chandra Shekhar Azad agriculture university in Kanpur, she decided to tread the path hitherto unexplored in her village.
Starting with a small group of four women, she took to fields, a job considered a man’s dispensation here. “Starting with a credit of Rs 12,000, which four of us had pooled in, we bought flowers and started supplying them to the local markets, apart from selling them in retail by ourselves,” says Rekha.
The business flourished gradually and the idea of cultivating flowers dawned upon them. There has been no looking back since then. The group has expanded its membership to over 40 women. The yearly turnover is little over Rs 60 lakh now.
Rekha uses drip irrigation and labour-intensive operations on the fields to indulge maximum number of women, apart from keeping the production costs under check.
As the business picked up, Rekha enrolled for a short-term floriculture course at CSA and started an organisation.
“We are able to make good amount as our flowers go to Delhi, Lucknow and the perfume industry of Kannauj,” she informs.
“Traditional farming compelled us to wait for the conducive weather conditions to start cultivation, while the cultivation of roses can be done round the year. This helps us reduce our dependence on the Nature,” she adds.
This has changed many lives around her. Sneh Lata, was doing petty jobs to feed herself and two children. “Now I earn over Rs 10,000 every month, and send my children to private school for better education,” she says.
Earlier, the villagers used to cultivate foodgrain, which proved inadequate to sustain livelihood.
The transformation that kicked off with a meagre one bigha of land has spread to around 50 acres now. One bigha of land can yield between 30 kg and 35 kg of flowers everyday which can be sold in the market for Rs 40-45 per kg on an usual day while it may give up to Rs 100 per kg in times of increased demand like marriage or festive season.