By Laxman Kafle Kathmandu, Nov.14 :People across the country are busy purchasing garlands for the celebration of Tihar festival, in which they worship dogs, crows and cows, decorate their homes, among others – and they all need garlands made from flowers. That is why, demand for flowers, especially marigolds, soars during this time. However, fewer than expected number of people flocked to the market areas like New Road even on the eve of Laxmi Puja in order to purchase garlands and other essentials, because of the fear of COVID-19 pandemic. Sarita Adhikari from Bhaktapur, who came to New Road on Friday to purchase garlands, said that price of garland had gone up by at least 20 per cent this year compared to last year. “I bought three bunches of garland (15 pieces) at Rs. 1,500. I come to New Road every year to purchase garlands, whose prices vary from trader to trader. Last year, I had paid Rs. 60 per garland,” she said. Krishna Prasad Chaulagain, a garland trader based on New Road, said that the price of garland has increased by at least 20 percent this year compared to last year and that he was selling garland at Rs. 500-1,000 based on their size this year while prices for the same was Rs. 600-700 last year. Price of garland went up this year because farmers had increased the price of the flowers, garland traders say. Krishna Prasad Dahal, a flower farmer from Kavrepalanchowk district, acknowledges that farmers increased the price of flowers. Expressing happiness over the price rise, he said that the farmers were able to make good money this year by selling flowers as no garland came from India and that he had to sell a bunch of garland below Rs. 300 if they had come from India. Dahal, who came to Kathmandu carrying 200 bunches of garland, expects to sell flowers worth Rs. 150, 000 this year if the rate of garland remains the same until Laxmipuja day. Nanimaiya G.C., from Koshipari in Kavrepalanchok, bought flowers in her village worth Rs. 5,000 and came to Kathmandu hoping to sell them and earn some money. “I am selling a garland at Rs. 100 each which I bought from farmers at Rs. 50 in the village,” she said. Better Chitwan, a youth group in Chitwan, who are in floriculture business for two years stated that they had already sold flowers produced in their farm. Sujata Devkota, a member of the group, said they were growing flowers at around 11 Kattha land in Chitwan and they sold a garland at Rs. 80-100 in the market.
Flower demand dropped by 50 per cent According to Kumar Kasaju Shrestha, President of Floriculture Association Nepal (FAN), the price of garland increased this year because of the inflation. He, however, said that consumer price per garland should not exceed Rs. 70 in the Kathmandu Valley. Price of a garland was Rs. 55-60 last year. He added that this year's festival was not as bright as the previous ones and that the flower trade had reduced by 50 per cent. “We estimate that around 1.2 million garlands are needed this Tihar, and domestic production will suffice to meet that demand” he said. Around 2.5 million garlands were consumed in Tihar last year, of which 300,000 were brought from India. “FAN didn’t import any flower from India this year,” he said.