Sikharpur in the Rajarhat block of North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal has around 200 nurseries that employ 1500-2000 villagers from Sikharpur and adjoining villages. The village is flourishing floriculture hub. Flower plantation has been taking place here for more than 50 years, though initially it was limited to 15-20 nurseries.
Shafiqul Islam, one of the floriculturists from Sikharpur told BE, “Rose, seasonal flowers during winter, tuberose (rajanigandha) sticks and marigold are the main attractions of the place.” He also informed that the main specialisation of Sikharpur lies in growing varieties of grass. “Mexican grass is the main variety grown here. Grass carpet is one of the main grass products sold. Apart from grass, seeds of different plants are also in high demand. Demand for urban landscaping and gardening has led to the demand for these products,” he added.
Local cultivators stated that earlier their products were exported to Thailand but now it is restricted to the national markets of Odisha, Bihar, and the north-eastern states. Their exports have declined because of the rising preference of the Mullick Ghat flower market in Howrah. Additionally, the tuberose sticks are now grown in other places as well and that has reduced the demand from Sikharpur. Locally, the products are also supplied to other nurseries and retailers across West Bengal. Some are also sold at the Mullick Ghat flower market in Howrah.
Islam stated that they lack any governmental assistance for their venture. He added, “In the recent Union Budget, the subsidy on chemical fertilizers has been reduced which will increase the cost of production and I fear that our profits will fall by 25%. The farmers are interested in diversifying their production by venturing into production of fruits and vegetables if they get proper assistance from the government.”