HEAVY AND intermittent rain in the state over the past couple of months has affected the business of flower vendors this monsoon, causing a significant increase in prices just as Ganeshotsav begins. While customers blamed the festive season for the surge in prices of flowers across the city, flower vendors said this had happened due to a drop in supply and the damage caused by rain.
P Subbiah, president of the Matunga Flower Merchants Association, comprising nearly fifty shops, usually takes a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh from the bank every year as “floating money” during the Ganesh festival to stock as many flowers as possible before selling them. This year, he had to increase the principal amount to Rs 3.5 lakh. Flowers to the Matunga market come from Nashik, Kolhapur, Solapur, Vasai, Sangli, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Flower merchants at Matunga observe the festival jointly and change decorations every three days. “The prices have increased by nearly two to three times the original cost. The Dadar flower market, from where most buy flowers early morning, is also not getting enough supplies. Customers feel I have increased the prices due to the festive season without knowing that enough flowers are not being supplied to Mumbai,” Subbiah said.
Flowers such as ‘Madras Malli’ and ‘Bangalore Malli’ sourced from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka cost nearly Rs 1,200 per kg as against Rs 300. For 100 roses, the cost is nearly Rs 300 per kg. Chamba is priced at Rs 200 for 100 flowers. A small bundle of tulsi leaves, usually priced at Rs 20 per bundle is being sold for Rs 50. Marigold costs Rs 100 per kg as against Rs 40.
A customer, K A Vishwanathan, told The Indian Express, “Our idol this time will need to be happy with just one bundle of durva instead of three. In the past years, I would buy kanakambaram (a type of garland made by stringing together different flowers for the purpose of decoration, sold as per its length) at Rs 50 for three feet. This time, it was Rs 60 for one foot. I have opted out of the idea of buying a garland as even the small ones cost anywhere between Rs 150 and Rs 500.”
Babu Neelkandan, another flower vendor who works at Sri Sankaracharya flower shop opposite Matunga post office, said his shop made a net profit of at least Rs 20,000 each Ganpati season, but this year, it seemed difficult due to reduced demand and affected supplies.
Trustee and spokesperson of Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal, King Circle, one of the richest mandals in the city, R G Bhat said, “We source nearly two tonnes of flowers every year from various areas, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Nashik and Vasai. This year, there is a definite shortage of flowers and it has cost the mandal much more than the usual amount. But what needs to be bought is bought. Luckily, we order our flowers a month in advance.”