Gerberas, carnations and coloured peppers are grown on the outskirts of our city. Meet Nitin Rameshchandra, the man who has converted his passion for gardening into a business. Minal Khona visits the farm for a visual treat.
His great-grandparents were the first Kutchis to settle in Hyderabad. Nitin Rameshchandra, whose main business is turnkey interior contracts for hotels and offices, takes pride in his flowers.
Nitin has loved plants and flowers ever since he can remember. He bought a piece of land located in Kummera village, Chevella Mandal, off the Vikarabad Road some years ago, He recently decided to convert the place into a greenhouse to grow flowers.
Gerberas, carnations and coloured peppers are grown in the three greenhouses built just behind Nitin’s farmhouse. Almost 11500 gerbera plants are neatly planted in rows. The pale pink and white blooms stand out amidst the many flowers in vivid hues of pink, yellow and red. There are a total of 13 different colours of gerberas growing simultaneously.
The carnations are planted in grids where the wires keep them upright and enable the branches to grow in different directions. A few red carnations stand out amidst the green leaves though there are six different colours available when the flowers are in full bloom.
As for the peppers, there are several green ones that are yet to grow to full size. They change colour as they grow and there are a few yellow and red ones. Big and firm, they still have a few days to go before they are ready to be plucked and sent off.
Nitin informs me that the flowers are specially packed at four in the morning and sent to the wholesale market in Guddi Malkapur. “During the wedding season, they sell for Rs 10 a flower, but during off season, they go for as little as 50 paise each. And for some reason I still can’t fathom why, white gerberas are extremely popular in the city. On an average, every plant gives 3.5 flowers per month. That adds up to approximately 40,000 gerberas a month. They are packed in boxes of 400 flowers each and unless each lot has 20-30 white gerberas per box, it won’t sell,” says Nitin.
While the gerberas are grown over half an acre, the carnations and pepper greenhouses are spread over quarter of an acre each. There are 17000 carnation plants and they produce eight flowers in the first year after planting and 12 flowers every year thereafter. The life of the carnation plants are 2.5 to 3 years. People prefer the single stalks of the carnations and not the sprays which is usually how they flower.
The coloured peppers number 2700 and each plant produces 3 kilos worth of peppers in its life cycle. Though the total produce may be a large amount, not all the peppers get sold. Nitin sells the peppers locally. Once a pepper is plucked off a plant, it starts to go soft. Nitin adds, “These peppers are available in several colours — purple, black, orange etc. but people only seem to want the reds and the yellows.”
Nitin started with this venture late last year and though he had subsidies from the government, the entire project cost him Rs 55 lakh. The subsidies do not cover the cost of the drip irrigation systems. Nowhere near breaking even, He insists he is doing this for the love of gardening. A team of eight people work on the farm along with the manager Vishnu Pawar, who is an agriculture graduate from Pune.
It is interesting to note that Nitin, an aeronautics engineer from IIT Bombay, who runs a furniture and interiors business has found the time and the energy to grow these colourful plants. Just goes to prove that if you have the passion, the will and the money to follow your heart, you can make your dreams come true.
Photographs by Sharath Reddy