The next time your doorbell rings, it may be the flower girl. She’ll have bouquets of roses in pinks, reds and yellows, tuberoses or gladioli. You may not want the flowers, but she’ll tell you how the fiery red roses can make a dazzling difference to your drawing room, or how the pale pinks match your bedroom curtains.
The effort to bring blooming bouquets to your doorstep is not being initiated by any private entrepreneur, but the Bengal government. “We are trying to tell Calcuttans that flowers are an essential part of life, as in the Continent,” explained N. Hazra, managing director of the West Bengal State Food Processing & Horticulture Development Corporation Limited.
The government has engaged 30 unemployed youths as pushpaparisevaks, who will buy the blooms at a cheap rate from its counter at Salt Lake’s Mayukh Bhavan, and sell them across the city. Already, they have garnered a clientele at Ballygunge, Kasba, Salt Lake, Beleghata, Belgachhia, and Howrah. The pushpaparisevaks drop in regularly and cater to “permanent” clients, as well as book larger orders for special occasions. They also act as couriers, so customers can send flowers to a friend or family member.
This is part of the government’s policy to expand the local flower market. The cut flowers are superior in quality to those available at local markets. Though home-grown, the blooms make their way to the city from Rajarhat and Panskura, among other places in Bengal. The gladioli and roses are not of export quality, though, and the tuberoses and cockscombs are either surplus or rejected flowers produced for export.
The youths have been trained by the West Bengal State Food Processing & Horticulture Development Corporation on arranging the flowers and in techniques to keep them looking fresh. So, customers can expect tips like trimming tuberose sticks by half an inch after a few days to keep them looking fresh for over a week. “This interaction with the salespersons may get households hooked on to buying flowers regularly,” Hazra added.
“We have started off with a few young women and men, but once we gauge the market, more pushpaparisevaks will be engaged and our presence will be felt all over the city,” Hazra signed off.