Plant nursery owners commend relocation :
Facelift for horticulturalists
When a group of British tourists who wanted to visit Nuwara Eliya to
see varieties of Sri Lankan flowers and foliage, they were taken by
surprise when the local tour guide took them to a newly opened flower
plant nursery in Battaramulla.
Indraratne Mallikarachchi at his flower garden
A member of the tour group who had earlier visited Nuwara Eliya on
more than three occasions, realised that the guide had taken them to a
flower nursery similar to the one which was at the Viharamahadevi Park
A section of the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo which was opposite
the newly constructed Mahinda Rajapaksa ‘Nelum Pokuna’ auditorium was at
one time known as the paradise of flower plant nursery lovers.
In the days gone by, the park was filled with people who came from
all parts of the country to buy varieties of rare flower plants and also
The nursery is now located in Battaramulla, near the Waters Edge
According to a flower plant seller, the decision taken by the
Government to shift the nursery to Battaramulla from Viharamahadevi Park
was a good decision.
When the Sunday Observer visited the flower plant nursery at
Battaramulla last Sunday, the Secretary of the Tropical Plant Growers
Association, Indraratne Mallikarachchi said the heavy traffic jam near
the Viharamahadevi Park, especially during the evenings, to for visitors
and they found it difficult to park.
“I think this is a wise decision taken by the authorities to shift
the flower plant nursery from Colombo to Battaramulla, since visitors
could now without hindrance visit our stalls to buy plants.”
According to Indraratne, seven plant growers' societies hold flower
plant exhibitions in Battaramulla every weekend.
Some of the popular plant nursery sellers at Battaramulla are CND
Plant Nurseries, Ayoni Wickramanayaka Plant Nursery, Nishantha
Palliyaguru Plant Nurseries, Lakmini Kuruwitage Flower Sellers, Ramya
Gunatallaka Plants and W.L.D . Indika Plant Nursery Sellers.
“Each flower plant seller has to pay Rs. 4000 to the Urban
Development Authority during weekends for conducting nursery exhibitions
and in addition we have to spend a large sum of money for TV
advertisements to popularise exhibitions among people, for security,
electricity and for water supply”.
He said some stall owners earn between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 75,000
during a weekend, depending on the sale of high valued flower and
Indraratne showed a rare plant named Cycnds encephalitis (Madu plant
in Sinhala) and said that it costs around SLR. 30,000.
He said some flower plant lovers are in the habit of purchasing
costly plants, even paying as much as Rs. 45,000.
A long-standing flower plant seller at Battaramulla, Gamage Perera of
Koslanda said he recently sold a rare flower plant for Rs. 68,000 to a
businessman in Kollupitiya.
“Although I am a bird lover, I have never spotted such a rare and
beautiful flower plant in my life. During one of my visits to the
Sinharaja forest, I saw it and quietly uprooted and brought it home. The
businessman visited my nursery following a paper advertisement”.
He however, lamented for uprooting such a rare flower plant from the
sacred forest range `Sinharaja’ and appealed plant lovers to refrain
from committing such acts.
A prominent horticulturist at Ambewela in Nuwara Eliya, Joseph
Nugawela said he too runs about three flower plant stalls at different
places, including at Battaramulla every month and said, unlike in the
past, horticulturists face many problems now.
“The prices of the main components which are used in the flower plant
cultivation such as river sand and fertiliser are very expensive and
people who are involved in the cultivation face untold hardships”.
He therefore proposed the Government to look into their grievances
and help them at least by asking Area Divisional Secretariats to provide
sand at reasonable prices and also, provide them fertiliser at
He also said many people who are involved in selling flower plants
are not in a sound financial position and urged the authorities to
encourage them at least by granting them bank loans.
Flower plant exporter, M.R. Dias said horticulturists generally bring
a colossal sum of foreign exchange to the country by exporting flowers
and therefore urged the Government to give them bank loans to uplift
He said flower plant exhibitions should be conducted under the
purview of the state and should be held at main junctions at least twice
a month to encourage people to take to selling plants.
Nuwan Guruge of Ratnapura said he would appreciate more
encouragements from the authorities to help sustain the industry.
He said the Government conducts exhibitions at venues such as ‘Deyata
Kirula’ and ‘Mahapola’. Flower plant sellers too would be grateful for
an opportunity to exhibit their flowers and plants, he said.
He also said a separate authority should be set up for the benefit of
over 200,000 families involved in flower plant industry, like the
protection given by the Government for coconut, tea, rubber, palmyra and
Ramesh Subramaniam of Kadawatha said, if the authorities could
allocate a separate place at the BIA premises at Katunayaka to conduct
flower plant exhibitions, it will be very helpful for local
industrialists to earn money. He also said his native place is Jaffna
and proposed the Government to conduct flower plant exhibitions in
He said he was a flower plant seller and also proposed the Government
to conduct flower plant exhibitions in the main cities such as Kandy,
Trincomalee, Galle and Matara. A flower plant seller at Battaramulla,
Daya Perera requested the authorities to give them mobile vehicles such
as `Dimo Battas’ to conduct mobile plant sales at every junction. He
also said some flower plant sellers bring plants from the Peradeniya
Botanical garden, as well as from forest ranges such as Yala and
Wilpattu.He requested flower plant sellers to refrain from bringing rare
flower plants from such places and to sell them at their stallsbecause
they were doing a disservice to the country.