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Priyanka Bhagat and Preeti Bhagat with their farm behind. Image Credit: IANS

Jamshedpur: Priyanka Bhagat and Preeti Bhagat, two sisters of the Kalapathar village of Jadugoda, 40km from Jamshedpur, have created a unique model for Gerbera flower cultivation.

Encouraged by their success, many farmers in half a dozen villages around Jamshedpur are now becoming self-sufficient by cultivating varieties of flowers, including Gerbera.

It was during the COVID-19 lockdown that Priyanka and Preeti hit upon the idea. Their father, Navkishore Bhagat, a daily wage worker in a factory in Jadugoda, lost job and worries mounted as to how to feed the family.

Priyanka and Preeti, who were studying in a school, tried to find self-employment opportunities on the Internet.

They struck upon the idea that Gerbera flowers are in great demand in the cities and it has a good advantage in commercial farming. The girls also found that flower cultivation was not pursued in Jharkhand.

They shared the idea with their parents, wh agreed to put their unused land to use. However. to start farming a capital of about Rs100,000 was required.

The mother of the girls offered her jewellery for mortgaging. Along with some savings, the initial capital was arranged and the family started cultivating Gerbera flowers on about 20 hectares of land.

Many people are now coming to see and understand the model of their farming. Preeti says that the biggest challenge in floriculture is to get the product to the market at the right time.

African flower

Gerbera cultivation provides protection against this risk to a great extent. The specialty of this flower is that after plucking, it can be kept fresh and safe for a long time.

It is an African flower in origin, that’s why it is also called ‘African Daisy’.

If its flower is kept in a bottle of water, then it stays in the same condition for about 15 days. Secondly, once its plant is planted, it starts flowering after three months and this process continues for three years.

Farmers can pluck flowers 10 times in a month. The price of a flower of Gerbera ranges from Rs15 to Rs30 in the market. It is necessary to make shade net for farming.

It has a high initial cost, but it worked in the long run. Gerbera flowers are in great demand during weddings or celebrations. “Now people have come to know about this farming not only in Jamshedpur but also in many nearby cities. The advantage of this is that orders have started coming to them from the market itself. They also take delivery themselves,” says Preeti. Priyanka-Preeti’s father Navkishore Bhagat is also very happy with the path shown by the daughters.

He wants both the daughters to choose their own way and make a career for themselves. The younger daughter Preeti is a student of Class 12 and she wants to study agriculture further, while elder sister Priyanka is a student of BA Part 1 and she further wants to pursue law.

Madhuram Hansda, a resident of Gohla Panchayat under the Musabani block of East Singhbhum, has also achieved good success in the cultivation of Gerbera flowers.

He was earlier working as a Rozgar Sevak, but he left his job and started floriculture. He got shade net at subsidised rate with the help of Horticulture Department. He cultivates Gerbera flowers throughout the year. His flowers are also supplied in Bengal and Orissa, besides Jharkhand.

Similarly, Rajesh Mahto, a resident of the Haludbani village of Hendal Judi Panchayat of Ghatshila block, is cultivating flowers on his land. He has cultivated Gerbera flowering plants by making polyhouses. Due to this a certain normal temperature is obtained by the plants and a drip system is adopted for irrigation.