Anandmayee, in her sixties, is busy dealing with her customers, with a huge pile of roses and marigold in front of her. She has been selling flowers for the past 36 years, commuting all the way from Rabkavi Banh atti( a district of Raybag Taluka), Karnataka every day. Her customers are street-side vendors who sell stringed flowers by the mola or make garlands out of it.
Even as dawn is hours away, Vijaypur Market, also known as City Market, is already bustling with activity. Flower and vegetable vendors visit the market in the wee hours of the morning, to off-load their wares. Vijaypur Market is located in Chickpet, off state highway 73 and the south end of the City bust stand. This is just a few metres away from the MASS office.
As the sun rises, the southern end of Jalalpur Road & the adjacent streets are a sight to observe, with huge piles of new & freshly harvested flowers in vibrant and lively colours being sold by so many vendors.
There are more than 50 flower stalls across the flower market, as well as 120 or so Growing Companies—firms that contract farmers to grow flowers according to market demand, and directly trade with the retailers & vendors.
There is always a demand for flowers for all occasions, be it happy or sad. However, one should know where and how to buy them. “One should be a master in bargaining if you are buying flowers from Jalapur road,” says Mutha, a vendor who owns Nikhil Flowers on the same Road, and buy flowers from Mandi every day. “We buy flowers from both farmers and retailers depending on the quality,” he adds. Mutha says that the flower business is a profit game—with farmers investing Rs 1 to Rs 1.5 to grow a flower, but taking home much more!
Where do these flowers come from?
Farmers from different parts of the state like Tumkur, Chikkaballapura, Doddaballapura, Nelamangala etc arrive at the flower market to trade their flowers. Growers from other parts of Raybag Taluka turn up to the market mostly every Monday as the day is for Monday flea.
Flowers like roses, gerbera, tulips, lilies, jasmine, gladioli, tulips, marigold etc are grown in farms around Karnataka. Flowers like Marigold are imported from the neighbouring districts like Huregeri and Bekkeri.
Flowers from farmers to vendors
Farmers and flower-growing companies bring their flowers to the market and fix a particular price depending on the flowers. For instance, the price of rose per piece is Rs 3; this is quoted initially by the farmers and the companies. Later, when these flowers are bought in bulk either by middlemen (brokers) or retailers, they keep a minimum profit margin of Rs 3 to 5 per flower. Therefore the price increases to Rs 6 to 8. Then this increased price is quoted by the brokers and retailers to the vendors and the vendors come up with a new price keeping profit margins in mind.
There are also a relatively small number of farmers who keep their own stalls at the market, but they sell their flowers in bulk to retailers or agents.
Muniraj, one of the vendors, explains: “This supply chain remains the same for both exotic and local flowers.” He adds: “We don’t buy flowers directly from farmers since they sell only in bulk. We prefer to buy only a limited quantity according to the demand in our respective markets.”
If you happen to buy flowers in bulk or are looking for more options, an inexpensive way would be to buy flowers from wholesalers, or just drop in to City Market in the early hours of the morning. This is what most people do during weddings.
Season decides the price
Some vendors estimate Vijaypur Market. The flower market sports a fragrant ambience as early as 3 am, and this lingers until 8.30 am. By that time, vendors move out of their spot in front of stores that start opening.
Prices of flowers vary everyday depending on the occasions. During off-seasons, jaji (Jasminum grandiflorum) costs upto Rs 250 per kg, while mallige (Jasminum sambac) and marigold cost up to Rs 200 and Rs 50 per kg respectively. Flower garland pieces (also called dandu – ದಂಡು in Kannada) cost around Rs 25 per piece or more, depending on the season. A garland needs minimum four such pieces.
Per piece costs for decorative flowers like crimsons, gerberas and roses are Rs 6, Rs 7, Rs 20 and Rs 5 respectively. Products like bouquets which are made from these flowers cost anywhere upwards of Rs 100 depending up on the number of flowers used. “During the festival seasons, these flower prices increase threefold,” says one of the flower vendors at the market.
Vijaypur Market has been supplying fresh flowers to the city of Raybag for a long time. And despite the chaos and traffic in the area, the glory of this small mandi continues to reign supreme at market!