Marigold is the flower of Dussehra. Its flowers may have got their name from ‘Mary’s gold’ because of the heaps of these golden flowers found at the shrines of Mother Mary in Fatima and Lourdes; but they are used across religions.
Marigold’s warm yellow, orange or saffron colours signify warmth, energy, affection and sacrifice, alike. Marigold flowers now find application in petals therapy and aroma therapy. This can help one overcome depression due to the rising prices and taxes; loss of income or even occupation.
This seasonal plant can be grown easily in Goa during the monsoons as well as with the winter crop of chillies and tomatoes. We can gain by having both flowers to sell – from Dussehra and Diwali till the end of the wedding season in June next – as well as protection against nematodes for our chillies, tomato and banana plants.
The crop can be grown in coconut plantations and help to reduce weeds while giving a good crop at the end of the monsoon rains.
The dried petals are used to extract yellow pigment as a food colour and cloth dye. If the petals are mixed in chicken feed for layers, one can enhance the colour of the egg yolk.
The powder is also used in rangoli and during Holi festival. After the Dussehra or wedding celebrations, the marigold flowers are not a waste – they are a resource!
Cultivation of marigolds has now provided 285 farmers across Goa with a profitable occupation and subsidy of ₹ 18,75,000 at the rate of ₹ 75,000 per hectare (10,000 sqm) which will be paid out by the Goa Directorate of Agriculture to the farmers for the 25 hectares land cultivated this year.
The yield is expected to be 125 tonnes worth; about one and a quarter crore rupees (₹ 1,25,00,000) at an average price of a hundred rupees per kilogram at Dussehra.
The total income generated by the marigold farmers would be almost one and half crore rupees this month. Marigold cultivation can give relief from mental and financial depression in one go!
Many centuries ago, farmers on the Mediterranean coast found that tomatoes grew better when grown near plots of marigold plants. So, they began growing marigold in other fields (where traditionally only tomatoes were grown) and obtained better yields of tomatoes.
Root damaging nematodes were discovered later. The butterflies laid their eggs on the marigold plant and the leaf-miner caterpillar infestation on the nearby tomato, chilli and capsicum plants was greatly reduced. The role of the marigold in attracting insects to itself is now known as ‘Trap cropping.’
Garlands of marigolds adorn vehicles, shops, institutions and houses at Vijaya Dashmi, Dosro or Dussehra, which is celebrated this Tuesday. The essence of the Dussehra celebrations is the victory of truth over falsehood.
The flower of victory is the marigold. The good news is that farmers in Goa are now growing marigold flowers on a commercial scale and earning good money. The price rarely drops below ₹ 50 per kg in Goa.
We can celebrate victory of good over evil with marigold this Dussehra and grow more marigolds with our chillies in the coming crop season. There is a ready market for marigolds to decorate wedding mantaps and make garlands.
The author is the former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan