Dr Bababsaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University (BAMU) in Aurangabad has done what seemed nearly impossible till a few years ago. Using modern technology, it has not only successfully cultivated roses in an environment considered hostile to the flower but is also generating revenue from the endeavour. The project that has won the university, which does not buy flowers from outside, the state government’s Best Rose Award for two consecutive years.
Aurangabad and almost all the Marathwada region comprising eight districts is hemmed in by hills that results in a moderate climate throughout the year. The temperature in Aurangabad ranges from 10 to 42 degree Celsius. For roses, 30-36 degrees is the ideal temperature. The varying climate was a hurdle for rose farming in the region.
In August 2008, the BAMU approved a ‘high-tech floriculture project’, under which the university started growing around 5,000 plants in a poly-house set up on a barren land. The aerodynamic poly-house helped control temperature, humidity and moisture. The galvanised structure, that helps natural ventilation inside, has an age of about 30 years.
The project — to commercially grow roses on wasteland — was the brainchild of chairman of campus development project Dr Sudhir Gavhane. After the project was approved, the varsity’s garden superintendent Dr Govind Humbe and Kishore Nirmal outlined a plan that required an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh.
The water requirement was taken care of by raising the water level of around 40 old wells on the campus and constructing canals. Drip irrigation system and foggers were put in place to avoid water losses. The combined efforts paid off and the BAMU delivered high-end varieties of roses.
The university gets 500 flowers every day. Some of it is used to meet the campus requirements and the rest is sold in the open market. The project generated revenue of Rs 60,000 in 2009 and Rs 90,000 in 2010. The department expects to double the income in the current year.
This sets an example of the ways in which the fund-crunched universities in India can attain self-sufficiency leading to better and independent decisions on various facets of improving the quality of education on their campuses.