08 December 2019

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More Fragrance to the 'Flowery' Business

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Flower business can add a new colour and fragrance to the life of those who are looking for a self-employment and more personal income. Perhaps floriculture is the one business which is run by tiny investors to corporate giants like the Tatas, which is the major cut flower exporter in the country.

Experts say one can set up a shop in the sector with an investment as low as Rs.30000 to Rs.50000. And what is more attractive in the floriculture is that there is no dip in the demand.

Floriculture is still a budding business in India with a total market size of Rs. 2000 crore while it is a Rs. one trillion ($ 23 billion) business in the export market. In the current fiscal, India is expected to fetch an export revenue of Rs.700 crore as against the target of Rs.1000 crore. India's share in the export market is a negligible 0.7 per cent.

The business is full bloomed in the United State where the annual consumption of flower is worth $ 12 billion, followed by Japan with $ five billion and Italy with $ 4.3 billion. However, the per capita daily consumption is the highest in Norway. In the country, each citizen uses flowers worth $ 146 daily. In Switzerland, which stands second, this is $ 126. In Germany, third largest per capita flower consumer, the daily consumption of flower by each individual is worth $ 88.

In such a massive sea of demand, the contribution of India is just a drop in the ocean, literally. According to Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India), poor infrastructure facilities and inadequate support from the Government, has led to the domestic floriculture exports not rising to the expected level.

This apart, the availability of the quality flowers also affects the exports. Majority of flowers produced in the country is suit only for the domestic market. They are not able to create ripples in the export market.

But the silver lining is that the demand in India is growing at an incredible pace of 25 per cent annually. With the middle class population in the country expanding tremendously, the graph of demand for flowers will always be on an upward course. It is estimated that in a very near future the domestic production will not be able to meet the demand at home.

India can very well emerge a major player in flower business in the world market by effectively tapping its favourable conditions like highly conducive agro-climatic conditions, availability of low cost labour and air-connectivity with the major cities in the world.

The government has already taken some steps to promote flower export from the country. As part of it the Union Government has set an agri-export zones in Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal and Karnataka, which together hold 70 per cent share of flower export from the country.

Besides, expanding and improving cold storage and cargo handling facilities at key airports like New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are under active consideration of the Government.

The country has to go miles and miles to reach its destination of a major player in the world market. The country will have to further improve its infrastructure, make available good planting material and good production technology and basic inputs.

In export, the country should concentrate more on items like cut flowers, dry flowers, seeds, potted plants and micro propagated plantlets. Financial institutions will be directed to make the fund available for the sector at highly competitive rate.

Players in the sector say that to give further fillip to the flower export from the country, promotion council should be set up. Appropriate marketing and distribution channels should be evolved. Import duty on inputs should be abolished. Competitive airfreight tariff structures are needed to promote flori export particularly to countries like the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.'

With production in traditionally strong markets (the Netherlands and the US) have reached threshold levels, developing countries like Columbia, Israel, South Africa and Kenya have emerged as new production centres.

Most flowers are grown under protected conditions in covered structures like green houses and poly/glass houses in European and other countries. Due to intense cold, high energy cost, production in these countries is limited during winter months. Thus they have to depend largely on imports to meet their domestic demand as most of the festivals fall during this period when the demand of flowers is at its peak.

Against this backdrop,  India which currently has only 0.3 per cent share of the world market with export of  $ 30 million, it has strong chance of  widely expanding its share in the world market.

Karnataka is the leader in floriculture in India, accounting for 75% of India's total flower production. The state has the highest area under modern cut flowers, and 40 flower farms and exporting units. The expert committee set up by Government of India for promotion of export oriented floriculture units has identified Bangalore, Pune, New Delhi and Hyderabad as the major areas suitable for such activity especially for cut flowers. APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) is the registering authority for such units.

Investment can be made either in floriculture or in the market of the products depending on the interest and availability of resources or in both. Those who invest in floriculture can concentrate on the production of quality products. And they will be free from the botherations of marketing. It will be taken care by marketers who do not want to spare their energy for cultivation, but can fully focus on developing new markets and getting the maximum prices for the product, thus both farmers and marketers can be benefited.

Though climatic condition is conducive for floriculture and State Government has announced several schemes, it is yet to pick up in Kerala. Now it sources majority of its requirement from the neighbouring States, especially form Tamil Nadu. During the marriage and festival seasons, the State faces severe shortage of flowers. Now the whole State is fast growing as a single township it will further push up the demand of the flower in the State.


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