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Makhamali garlands turning Gundu women self-reliant

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Kathmandu, October 19, 2017: Tihar, the festival of lights and flowers, is helping in income generation for many in Gundu, Dokathali-7 of Bhaktapur.

Narayani Basnet, 35, on Tuesday was busy making garlands of makhamali flower (globe amaranth). Makhamali garlands are used during the Tihar festival, especially on the day of Bhai Tika.

Most of the women in Gundu, four kilometres south of the Bhaktapur city, cultivate makhamali flowers targeting Tihar.

There are around 200 households in the area, and women of every household cultivate makhamali flowers.

According to Rabindra Sapkota, chairperson of Dhokathali Ward 7, annually Gundu alone supplies garlands worth Rs 50 million. “Mostly women who are involved in cultivating, gardening and making garlands,” said Sapkota. The makhamali garland business has made women here economically empowered.

“Since I started this work, I have never asked for money from my husband. I started this business six years ago,” said Basnet.

Basnet said she earned Rs 50,000 last year by selling makhamali garlands. “I hope my business to do better this season.”Baja Bahadur Khatri, who owns a flower shop in Chabahil, was at Basnet’s house on Tuesday along with his two friends.

“I come here every year during Tihar to buy flowers and garlands. This year alone I have bought garlands worth around Rs 50,000 from five households in this area,” said Khatri.

According to Ward Chairperson Sapkota, each household earns about Rs 50,000 by selling garlands during the season. Garlands made by women in Gundu also go to Banapa, Biratnagar, Pokhara, Narayanghat and Dharan among others cities.

Gundu in the last few years as become a synonym for makhamali garlands.

But farmers here said traders pay them Rs 20-25 per garland which is sold in the city areas for at least 100 rupees.

“We are aware of this fact so we have decided to open a collection centre and fix the market price of flowers,” said Sapkota.

Anita Basnet, a local of Gundu, who is also a member of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, said floriculture in Gundu has made women here self-reliant.

“It has boosted their self confidence,” said Basnet.

Women from the area also take garlands themselves to Ratnapark, Ason, Indrachowk, Koteshwor, Patan and Swoyambhu.  Sanimaha Thapa, 66, who has been cultivating makhamali flowers for commercial purpose for a decade now, is delighted that she is getting good returns.

“Two decades ago, it was difficult to sell vegetables, but now people come to our doorsteps to buy flowers,” said Thapa. Makhamali flower is planted three months before Tihar and harvested just ahead of the festival.

By Anup Ojha

This article was originally published at The Kathmandu Post.