The ever-enchanting Patnitop Tourism Circuit embraces the flower power with Patnitop Development Authority’s ‘Project Flower Valley’, aimed at spurring tourism, biodiversity and socio-economic development.
“Flowers are big business. Millions of them are sold as cut or loose flowers, processed into oils, dyes, edibles, beverages, medicines, cosmetics, incense sticks, powders, and various other value-added products. When they bloom, their ephemeral beauty attracts admirers. Throughout their natural life cycle, and even beyond, they are source of beauty and business. Hence, we teamed up with experts from different domains and Panchayati Raj Institutions to herald the Project Flower Valley in our jurisdiction,” says Thakur Sher Singh, CEO PDA.
“In the initial phase of the project, some ninety thousand seedlings of flowering plants, mostly lavender, have been planted since last year over an area of 12.50 acres,” he adds.
Seventy thousand lavenders procured from Doda District of Jammu and Kashmir UT, have been planted at multiple locations of the PDA jurisdiction in the months of September-October, 2022.
Meanwhile, other flowering plants including varieties of cosmos, marigold, among others, nearly 20,000 in number, have been planted as per their appropriate seasons in the years 2021 and 2022.
As some of these seedlings planted around the ancient Mani Mahesh Temple, situated enroute Nathatop, burst into flowers, visitors are stopping by to capture their stunning sight and scent. The temple has supported the initiative by giving its land.
However, full bloom is expected to most likely occur in the months of March-April, 2023. Around the same time of the year, Sanasar Lake witnesses the annual Tulip Festival, celebrating the brief appearance of colourful Tulip bulbs.
Given the highly conducive climate and soil of this region, various kinds of flowers, especially perennial flowers, will be planted at different locations under the Project Flower Valley in the coming times.
“A little patience, and woods, meadows and mountain slopes will be dotted with blossoms and blooms. It will be a floral, rather a botanical spectacle, adding to the avenues of attraction for the tourists in the Patnitop Tourism Circuit. It will expand the itineraries, as well as the stay of the tourists,” says CEO PDA.
He adds, “Furthermore, it will provide plenty of opportunities for new, young and innovative entrepreneurs to start flower-based initiatives and provide gainful employment to the locals. From flower farming to flower selling to flower processing, locals can venture into the huge flower industry however they like.”
Explaining the calculations, the Officer says seventy thousand flowering plants produce approximately 156 litres of oil per year, which is sold at a rate of Rs 1500 per litre. This brings a revenue generation amounting to Rs 23,40,000 in a year.
In addition, these plants produce approximately 4,50,000 seedlings in a year which when sold at a rate of Rs 5 per seedling, will bring a revenue generation of Rs 22,50,000 in a year.
That is, a yearly revenue generation of Rs 45,90,000 only from oil extraction and sale of seeds or seedlings of flowering plants. The project will come to fruition in atleast three years. In twelve years, the number will rise to Rs 5,50,80,000.
Applauding the Project Flower Valley, Parkash Chand, BDC Chairman Chenani, says, “This is the first-of-its-kind flower-based project introduced in Jammu Division, which will not only boost the tourism in the Patnitop Tourism Circuit, but will also spark entrepreneurship, provide rural employment, encourage returning to agriculture, increase revenues, boost biodiversity, and bring in holistic development. It will constantly evolve over the time, depending on the requirements and developments.”
PDA is making continuous efforts to not only increase and promote, but also innovate the tourism offerings in its jurisdiction, and such a concept of self-sufficient flower business, though at the initial stage, is another feather in its cap.
From the revenue generated through visitors, sale of flowers, seeds/seedlings, and flower-based products, PDA and PRIs will put in place more and better tourist amenities, tourist activities, kiosks, cafeterias, view-points, and so on. The domestic flower economy will change the fortunes of the villages of this circuit.
“Patnitop Tourism Circuit has always been a tourist’s favourite, but in real sense, it is now that is being explored, developed and promoted, and the socio-economic benefits of tourism are starting to reach the local rural population,” BDC Chairman adds.