Thursday, 17 February 2022 21:17

Struggling flower farmers, ‘ittar’ makers in UP’s Kannauj seek govt support

By Joymala BagchiKannauj (Uttar Pradesh) [India], February 17 (ANI): Amid a decline in the business, the flower farmers and ‘ittar’ makers of the perfume capital of India, Kannauj, have sought government support to enable them to sustain a basic living.

As the price of flowers changes according to the supply, the farmers are seeking a fixed minimum price for the flowers.

Notably, the selling price of rose, that was Rs 70 per kg a week ago plummeted to Rs 35-36 since the last two days because of an increase in supply. However, the price rises upto Rs 100 to Rs 140 per kg when there is an increase in demand and a decline in supply.

Anil Kumar Rajput (32), a resident of Khaderpurbag village whose family has been in the flower farming business for generations, said, "We are very worried about the price of flowers. When flowers grow in plenty, the price falls to a low that it bothers us. From where will we manage the cost?"Another problem being faced by the farmers is the stray cattle that destroys the plants and flowers in the fields.

Balram Singh Yadav, a flower farmer from Paindabag village, said, "I am very much worried about the stray animals, it is damaging the flowers and the plants like anything. I have no idea how to control it. Throughout the day, we work and even at night, we have to remain alert and keep visiting the field. Won’t this take a toll on our health? The government needs to consider our plight."Altogether, Kannauj is home to 500 factories most of which come under small-scale industries, barring some 45 to 50 of them. The most popular ‘ittar’ (natural perfumes) in the city are Rose, Bela and Mehendi.

The factory owners who manufacture these perfumes are lamenting a rise in tax.

Rashid Khan, a perfume factory owner at Kannauj, said, "Our business is not doing well now. We do not have support from the government. Since the tax was raised to 18 per cent, the sale has dropped and so, our production has declined."Khan further said that his godown has items that he failed to sell in the last two and a half years and fears that the essence will lose its original aroma.

Another small-scale factory owner, on the condition of anonymity, said, "The cheap perfumes are eating away all our businesses. You have seen the risk involved in this business. If there is a single leak in the lead of the furnace, the labourers die due to the toxic gas. The amount of raw material used here also matters, how can we lower the price?"The daily labourers who work in the perfume factory earn Rs 300 per day on average.

A daily wage labourer, Alam, told that he tried to do other things to earn a livelihood but as ‘ittar’ is the main source of income here in Kannauj, it did not help.

Approximately there are 80 to 85 shops selling ‘ittar’ at Barabazar in Kannauj.

An ‘ittar’ shop owner, Nishish Tiwari, said, "Since COVID-19, the business has dropped at its lowest. This is not a necessary item and our business used to be good because of the tourists who used to visit Kannauj. Now the situation is really bad. We have opened online business but with online business, the trust factor remains the main issue. However, we are hopeful that our business will revive once this pandemic ends."The business of export has also dropped down since lockdown.

Incumbent MLA from Kannauj Sadar, Anil Dohre, said, "The perfume park in Thathia built near express Highway is lying incomplete till date. This project was initiated to attract international businessmen here in Kannauj and this would have added the much-required boost for this industry, however, the project is yet to be completed. This would have helped to strengthen the overall economy of Kannauj and definitely of the flower farmers."The implementation of the international perfume park project in Kannauj, also known for the manufacture of the essence (ittar) used in perfumes, is yet to see a future.

Considered as India’s first-ever International Perfume Museum and Aroma Park the project was convinced during the tenure of the Samajwadi Party while in governance.

However, not all is doom and gloom as earlier on February 15, a Made in India perfume from Uttar Pradesh’s Kannauj was launched in New York as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ programme on Valentine’s Day.

The launch of the perfume ‘Vikas Khanna by Zighrana’ was unveiled by the Consulate General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal here. Perfume maker Zighrana said that it is delighted to work with an Indian cultural icon and intrepid entrepreneur Vikas Khanna for their first perfume.

The incumbent BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, with ‘one district, one product’ (ODOP) scheme, has built clusters to help the growth of the industry.

In 1991, the central government with the assistance of the state government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) had set up the Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC) here.

Notably, the flower farmers and perfume makers form a large part of Kannauj’s population that will go for polling on February 20.

Although the district was formed under BSP in the year 1997, luck has never favoured the party as far during the elections.

In Kannuaj Sadar, former Kanpur police commissioner Asim Arun from BJP is fielded against three-time SP MLA, Anil Dohre, Vineeta Devi is fielded from congress whereas Samarhit Singh Dorhe is BSP’s face from Kannauj Sadar.

Two phases of the seven-phased polls in Uttar Pradesh have concluded, while the state will have another five phases of polling.

Polling for the remaining five phases will take place on February 20, 23, 27, March 3 and 7. The counting of votes will take place on March 10. (ANI)