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From being a Complete Novice to Earning Rs 85000 by Growing Jasmine during Lockdown- Kirana’s Story

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Mangaluru’s Kirana Devadiga began growing jasmine plants at home. Her passion for gardening has now turned her into an entrepreneur, earning her Rs 85,000 so far.

Ayushi Raina
Kirana Devadiga
Kirana Devadiga

I have 3 jasmine plants growing in my little balcony, and the joy that their scent gives me can’t be measured says 36 years old Advocate Kirana Devadiga from Mangaluru.

Growing jasmine changed her life- Literally!

Kirana started planting Udupi Jasmine, also known as Shankarpura Mallige, during the shutdown in March last year. Although jasmine is grown in different parts of the country and is known by different names, Udupi Mallige has an incomparable fragrance and is distinguished by a geographical indication (GI) label.

Kirana said in an interview "I have always had a secret desire to own a piece of land and cultivate it. As a girl who grew up in the city, that dream didn't come true. However, the lockdown helped as I began to spend so much time thinking about my passion of agriculture and farming.”

When Kirana mentioned this wish, her sisters and her husband Mahesh laughed at her.

“People around the world are suffering from COVID-19, and they asked me why I would like to spend time growing flowers,” she says. Her husband also asked her what the lawyer would do to become a farmer but Kirana was faithful and learned more about the plant.

Will-power can defeat any difficulty 

With terrace space, Kirana spent a lot of time on the Internet to understand how terrace gardening works. She said “From there, the process is very simple. All you need is patience and willingness to grow plants”. It was Rajesh, owner of Sahyadri nursery in Mangaluru, who helped Kirana determine what plants she could grow. “He showed me hibiscus, which is an easy plant to grow, but I didn't find it attractive. I want to grow something that also increases my regular income, which jasmine seems to be a great fit for.”

During lockdown, the nursery is full of jasmine. Kirana said: "In a sense, this is good for me: the lockdown means that not many people will buy plants. Also, considering its jasmine season, there are about 90 plants in the nursery, all of which I bought.

She spent a total of Rs.3150 (Rs.35 per plant) and loaded 90 jasmine flowers in her car.

Now that she had plants, she need flower pots. Fortunately, on her way back home, she saw a street vendor who wanted to sell 100 flower pots so that he could return to his home in North India. I bought all the pots he had for Rs.65 each and loaded them into the car. Due to the lockdown, there was no tempo or even an auto rickshaw to help me bring the pots home,” she said.

The next task was to bring all the pots and plants to two floors and to the terrace. “It took my husband, my 7 year old son and me three days to get them all on the roof. We didn't have any help and we had to do it all alone. This was an exhausting exercise, but it brings a lot of happiness, "she added. Kirana planted jasmine plants in pots and lined up on the terrace for the next few days.

It is said that Kirana learned a lot through conversations with the owner of the nursery. I was a complete beginner when it came to growing something,” she says. “I didn't know the type of soil, quantity the plants needed, and the kind of fertilizer that would help the plants grow better,” she says. "All the knowledge I gathered was gained through watching YouTube videos and interacting with other terrace gardeners."

Daily Affair

Kirana and Mahesh took good care of these plants for the next three months. “Mahesh wakes up before me and is the one who tends to take care of the plants in the morning. Jasmine buds need to be picked before the first rays of the sun arrive.” After finishing her morning chores, Kirana will go to the terrace to check the soil and add fertilizer if necessary. "Although the plants began to flower after three months, I did not pick the flowers, hoping for better yields," She said.

Kirana's research indicates that she has to wait at least six months before plucking the flowers, so she let the plants get dense. "When I picked the flowers for the first time, I saw an incredible yield, almost 3 'chendu'," she added. Up to 800 flowers goes into making each chendu.

This jasmine flower is closely linked to each other using a string made of plantain stalks.

It's also an art Kirana learned on the go. For all the teasing my sisters made when I started, they were the ones who helped me tie the flowers together today. In fact, they were so inspired by the way my jasmine plants grew that they also started growing jasmine flowersshe said with a big laugh.

With an investment of about Rs.12000, including plants, flowerpots and fertilizers, Kirana has earned nearly Rs.85000 from jasmine flower sales till date. “For me, buying a fertilizer bag was like buying new clothes and jewelry,” she says. Kirana is a great example of how hard work always finds a way to shine.

In last, she said, “It is not difficult to grow jasmine; all you have to do is to manage your time. Find a way to make things happen on your own, instead of complaining about life and lack of time. No matter how small your dream is, don't make people laugh at it."

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