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Kerela Farmer Grows GI-Tagged Jasmine ‘Udupi Mallige’, Shares His Success Story

The GI-tagged Udupi mallige, a kind of jasmine that is well-known for being used during weddings and at temples during festivals, is grown by Kerala farmer Ashokan.

Shruti Kandwal
Ashokan K K, a Kasargod native, was first acquainted with Udupi mallige when he traveled to Udupi in 1999.
Ashokan K K, a Kasargod native, was first acquainted with Udupi mallige when he traveled to Udupi in 1999.

For the past 100 years or more, the town of Shankarapura has been a significant producer of an uncommon kind of jasmine called Udupi mallige.

This GI-tagged cultivar is reported to have initially been grown in the town's Christian neighborhood. In South India nowadays, it is difficult to find an auspicious ceremony or holiday that does not include jasmine.

Due to the constant demand, there are many jasmine farmers in the southern part of the nation. When compared to other flowers, jasmine is eternal in that it consistently provides its growers with a stable income.

Ashokan K K, a Kasargod native, was first acquainted with Udupi mallige when he traveled to Udupi in 1999. After working as a field laborer for approximately ten years, he made the decision to bring a sapling home to embellish his backyard.

"My grandfather was a farmer, and he used to tell me numerous tales about this flower that is so common in Karnataka. In addition to witnessing the sights, my goal for traveling to Udupi was to get a healthy mallige sapling,” says Ashokan.

He observes how the flower expanded quickly in his garden. He collected a few mallige within six months, which his wife Shailaja made into a garland.

"The area of land around my house is roughly 25 cents. I realized that the soil in this area would be ideal for growing this flower. I discovered after completing a brief market study that mallige garlands may cost up to Rs 1,000 per meter. Along with the vegetables we were already raising, my wife and I made the decision to cultivate jasmine and sell it as garlands. To create a little jasmine farm, we started to add more seedlings in 2000," he added.

The Mysore mallige (jasminum trifoliatum) from the Mandya district, the Hadagalli mallige (jasminum azoricum) from the Bellary district, and the Udupi mallige (jasminum sambac) from Shankarapura are the three most well-known types of jasmine.

Udupi mallige is the costliest of the three, costing around Rs. 1,500/atti (cluster). This type of jasmine got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2013. 

In Shankarapura, practically all households still rely on growing jasmine and creating garlands for a living. Their primary markets are festivals, weddings, and temples. To make essential oils, soaps, perfumes, and other upscale products, Udupi mallige is also exported to other nations.

How Jasmine ‘Udupi Mallige’ is grown

Customers frequently visit Ashokan's home since he started growing Udupi mallige, according to Ashokan. "I don't ever sell the garlands in the market. They are picked up by wedding parties and temple authorities. The cost for tying is added to the market rate to determine the pricing. He adds that he sells roughly two meters every day for at least 15 days each month at a typical price of Rs 1,000 per meter.

It takes two to three hours to remove the buds from the plant, he explains. He produces around 15 meters of mallige garland each month.

“The buds of the uncommon jasmine are small but long. They must be tied before they bloom, which will happen in 5 to 6 hours. I create around two meters of garland in a day by harvesting them twice daily. The flowers may stay fresh for up to 10 days after being picked if they are carefully wrapped in a banana leaf and periodically sprinkled with water. But this delay could lessen its strong aroma. We make the garlands in this manner for important festivals or wedding orders,” he says.

"Jasmine is always in demand, no matter what. If rich laterite soil is available, anyone may cultivate the flower with ease,” according to Ashokan.

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