118 years of trust Agriculture Tribune
Chandigarh, Saturday, September 19, 1998

Floriculture—profitable venture
By G. S. Dhillon
AFTER the initial bloom in floriculture in India, now a decline seems to have set in. Many of the ambitious floriculture ventures have not lived up to the expectations. It is essential that an evaluation be carried out to find as to what ails the floriculture industry.

Beetle that kills sal trees
By R.C. Joshi
ALERTED by reports of sal borer (hoplocerambyx spinicornis) infesting sal trees (shorea robusta) in Uttar Pradesh, which has forced the UP Government to fell lakhs of trees, the Forest Department has initiated a programme to check the similar menace in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

Global mirror

Farm operations for September




Floriculture—profitable venture
By G. S. Dhillon

AFTER the initial bloom in floriculture in India, now a decline seems to have set in. Many of the ambitious floriculture ventures have not lived up to the expectations. It is essential that an evaluation be carried out to find as to what ails the floriculture industry.

There was a rapid growth of floricultural projects during 1970 to 1980, with most of these for producing roses for export. This led to near saturation of the market and decline in prices of the floricultural produce. Most of the producers in the flower business concentrated on the production without having any link to the market needs. Shipments were dumped at the auction markets without paying any regard to the appropriate time, volume or quality ratio of the different flower varieties.

No promotional efforts were made either to make the sale of flowers popular in competition to the other comparable goods available in the market for the same end, especially the gift and decoration segments.

Charactristics of the different export markets

European market: In 1980 Germany was the leading importer of cut-flowers from the Third World countries, but by 1986 the Netherlands overtook it. By 1994 the floricultural produce imports by the Netherlands were double than that of the German imports.

In the Netherlands an interesting development took place during 1994 when under pressure from the home flower growers, the auctioneers restricted flower imports from the Third World countries. In March, 1995, the Tele-Auction Flowers Aalsmer took over all auctions earlier carried out by the traditional auctioneers.

Some overseas producers switched over to direct marketing of their produce in the European markets, thus eliminating not only the uncertain Dutch market but also the middlemen and saved freight cost to some extent as involved in the re-export. This resulted in decrease in the average auction prices in the Dutch market. So the restrictions imposed turned out to be counter productive. In May, 1996, it was decided to remove the restrictions imposed and liberalise imports to the Dutch market.

The Netherland also took lead in the marketing of bouquets and these came to sold all over Europe in the chain stores. Roses in general have a good market in Holland.

The German market

has shown certain weakness in the recent past and analysis showed that though this weakness became visible around 1989, the trend got concealed due to the new market of East Germany becoming available on re-unification. In the German market, a good price is obtained for roses 35-60 cm long and not so for longer roses (70-90 cm). Germany has some big import companies and also the biggest consumption market for roses in Europe, so offers potential for direct supply instead of going through the Dutch auction market.

Although the production of roses has got stabilised in the European countries, the East and South African production is still registering an increase of about 20 per cent every year (in spite of lower returns now available from the rose cultivation). A slight increase is noticed in the case of the Central American production of roses. The Columbian production of roses is undergoing the process of modernising of the varieties grown but the area under cultivation has not undergone change.

The production of roses in the case of Equador has undergone important development and the area under cultivation has increased from 1,100 hectares to 2,000 hectares and many new investors are entering the scene.

The worldwide over-production of flowers combined with a weak demand is responsible for trends which have resulted in drop in prices of flowers and shrinking of the project profit margins. Many producers have been forced to quit after experiencing agony and loss.

The UK market

The UK market has a high rate of consumption at the “low-price profile” due to the conservative product base obtained. But this market offers an excellent sales for short roses, chrysanthemums and carnations.

The Italian market

The Italian market has different perceptions. There is a strong demand for long roses, orchids and other high-priced products.

Secret of success story

It is very difficult to be a success story in the field of floriculture without the guidance of a technical expert who knows how to deal with the plants at the various stages of growth, harvesting, marketing, etc. So the question need to be answered is how to choose a right expert?

The technical know how available with the agencies offering collaboration is nearly similar but experience of successful operation of floricultural projects may differ. As the problems encountered at each site vary widely, the “textbook knowledge” will not be enough for framing a successful report. It must be borne in mind that unlike other crops, the flowers do not need daily but hourly attention. As the climatic pattern changes from place to place, so a “standard type-design” will not hold good. Experience of the firm in collaborating in the successful ventures in the neighbourhood of the project site would be more relevant while making a selection.

What to grow

Though India has a wide range of climatic conditions, yet it does not mean that all types of flori-crops can be grown at any place and at any time. So for the climatic conditions obtained at the projcet site, an intelligent choice will have to be made. The flower crops from which a choice will have to be made are gerbera, lilium, carnation and gladiolus.

Gerbera is a perennial herb which grows fell in soil and also in a ‘hydro-ponic’ site state. If the flowers are to be cultivated in the green house structures with climatic control, cut flower gerbera having long vase-life can be produced profitably. The flowers can be produced all the year round. Once planted, a plant can be depended upon to give good crops for two years at least. The tissue culture is the dominant mode for commercial propagation.

Lilium is a bulbous crop which can be grown in the semi-open or in green houses. It is a seasonal crop and profitable production is not possible during the periods of high and low temperature seasons. This species is not capable of bearing high-intensity light as may be obtained on a good sunny day, so the crop will have to be “shaded”. The plants will need protection during rainy period through green houses in the case of cooler areas. This species need good moisture regime.

Of the two varieties — Asiatic variety and oriental variety — The former variety has a better market response in the domestic market, but the latter variety has an intense sweet fragrance which has a charm of its own, and a good market is obtained in Japan.

Carnation in moderate temperature regions gives good produce. Not only the right temperatures should be low but also the differnce between the day and night temperatures should be small for optimum growth of carnation flowers. The soil should be adequately drained. The propagation of cuttings is affected by “meristen culture”. The mother stock is cultivated in isolated concrete benches and regularly tested for contamination and disease affection.

Gladiolus is a crop of flowers which can be grown in open condition for most part of the year. It is a bulbous type seasonal crop. Investments required are relatively low compared to the other varieties of flowers discussed. Although most of the produce may get consumed in the domestic market, yet there exists a large potential for its export to the markets of Singapore, Japan and West Asia.top

  Global mirror

Animal census to stem genetic decline
By Peyton Johnson

BANGKOK: The Philippines is taking its first-ever farm animal census as part of a drive to halt a decline in certain breeds and spices.

The government says the aim is to find why “there is such an alarming decline in our farm animal genetic resources and what can be done to stop it.”

“These genetic losses are now a national problem,” says Dr Josephine Sarmiento, senior agriculturist for livestock development in the Bureau of Animal Husbandry. “We need to know which breeds and species have been hardest hit and which show most resistance to diseases and stress.

“Some of our breeds could be in danger of extinction. This first-time national survey is a long-overdue step in the right direction.”

The decline in the diversity of domesticated animal species is a worldwide phenomenon.

“We have some answers, but not nearly enough to deal with the problem on an international scale,” says David Steane, a British animal geneticist with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). “We need more answers as fast as we can get them.”

The FAO believes the loss of diversity is costing developing countries in Asia billions of dollars a year.

In the Philippines, for example, livestock and poultry account for 28 per cent of agricultural production, believed to be worth $ 3.7 billion a year and growing at an annual rate of 3.2 per cent. More than half the country’s 70 million people are dependent on farming.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of the agricultural economy in this country,” says Dr Sarmiento. “The Filipino small farmer is the backbone of our society. If the small farmers go down, so does the country.”

Small holders are also the backbone of the livestock sector, owning three-quarters of the almost two million head of milk and beef cattle. An increasing number of these small-scale farms are run by single-parent families headed by women.

Small-scale farmers own virtually all the estimated 2.5 million water buffalo and 8.4 million ducks, and 60 per cent of the 93 million chickens.

Ducks are particularly important in the Philippines because of the widespread demand for balut, and embryonated duck egg sold everywhere — in village and city markets and by street vendors throughout the country. Balut, unknown elsewhere, is big business in the Philippines. Practically all of it is produced and sold by poor rural families.

Backyard farmers own and raise 70 per cent of the nation’s 8.2 million pigs. Outside Muslim area, pork is the preferred meat in the Philippines, making up 58 per cent of meat supplies, followed by poultry with 20.5 per cent, beef and water buffalo 17.8 per cent and goat 3.3 per cent.

The aim of the current campaign is not only to protect the nation’s farm animals and preserve their diversity, but also to raise their productivity. Any success will be of immediate benefit to the depressed rural economy.

One practice that Dr Sarmiento, Steane and other specialists want discontinued is indiscriminate reliance on the cross-breeding of local animals with exotic or imported stock.

Such cross-breeding has been widely practised in Asia for about 30 years, and is frequently a failure.

“The reliance on exotic stock was never more than a ‘quick fix’ to increase output without much thought to the long-term implications of such a policy,” says Steane.

“It also amounted to a vote of no confidence in the worth of our own animals,” adds Dr Sarmiento.Both experts agreed to address the nation’s livestock problems and to protect its genetic resources, all domestic animals must be counted and then examined, as the Philippines is doing. top


Beetle that kills sal trees
By R.C. Joshi

ALERTED by reports of sal borer (hoplocerambyx spinicornis) infesting sal trees (shorea robusta) in Uttar Pradesh, which has forced the UP Government to fell lakhs of trees, the Forest Department has initiated a programme to check the similar menace in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. According to Conservator of Nahan Forest Circle Praveen Thaplyal, the department has carried out thorough check of the forests to take preventive measures against the killer beetle in a bid to save the sal trees in the Doon valley of Sirmaur district.

Sal, an evergreen tree and an important timber species in India, can be found in Nahan and Paonta Forest Divisions of Nahan spread over 183 sq km. “The department has spotted dry sal trees in the forests of Garibnath. A further hunt for such trees was made in the forest again and 18 such trees were detected,” Mr Thaplyal said. He added that a team of scientists from the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehra Dun, was invited to provide suggestions and measures to be taken here to control the sal borer.

The scientists conducted sampling and estimated that less than 1 per cent of the growing stock was infested with sal borer. The sal borer, a dark brown beetle measuring 2 to 6.5 cm with two long antennae, lives on the sap of the sal trees.

This beetle, with a life span of three to four weeks, appears at the onset of monsoon. It lays eggs beneath the bark of the dead, dying and damaged sal tree. A female beetle lays about 100 to 300 eggs.

Soon after the eggs are hatched, the larvae enter the trees making small holes and finally enter the heartwood where these larvae drill tunnels and form colonies. The larvae then transform into grubs which drill tunnels in the heartwood leading the tree to dry. The symptoms of dry trees and holes in the bark help in identifying an infected tree.

In Paonta, the control measures like laying of tree traps to nab the beetles are being adopted. “Sal trees are felled and the bark removed so that sap oozes out, attracting the beetle. These are then caught and killed. Till now, 724 sal borers have been killed in this fashion,” Mr Thaplyal said.

He felt that the extent of infestation in the sal forest of Nahan was “very low” compared to that in UP and Madhya Pradesh. In UP as many as 20,000 sal trees were infected by this beetle and crores of them were caught and killed, Mr Thaplyal said.

Incidentally a Delhi-based non-government organisation has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the large-scale illegal felling of sal trees by the Govern-ment of Madhya Pradesh on the pretext of controlling sal borer infestation.

The Government of Madhya Pradesh has appointed a committee to look into the matter and give a report.

The contractors, who were given the job of felling infested sal trees, are alleged to have felled lakhs of sal trees in central and eastern Madhya Pradesh, many of which reportedly healthy trees.

Mr Thaplyal explained that the staff of the Forest Department in Solan were now well conversant with the symptoms of the sal borer-infested trees and methods to trap the beetle.

“The early detection and preventive measures taken by the department have enabled us to arrest the spread of the sal borer and the forest wealth has been saved from damage,” he said.top

  Farm operations for September


Rogue out the canes affected by red rot and wilt. Collect and destroy the shoots infested with Gurdaspur borer. Repeat this operation at weekly intervals.

  • To control pyrilla, spray 500 ml of Thiodan 35 EC or 350 ml of Folithion/Sumithion/Accothion 50 EC per acre in 150 litres of water.
  • Control whitefly by spraying 1.0 to 1.5 litres of Malthion 50 EC or 3 kg of BHC 50 WP in 200 litres of water per acre.


  • Do not allow the crop of suffer for want of water at the pod development stage. Any stress at this stage causes drastic reduction in the yield of groundnut.
  • Control the tikka disease by spraying wettable sulphur at 500-750 gm per acre or Bavistin/ Agrozim at 50-60 gm per acre in the irrigated crop.


  • For the control of scab use healthy and disease-free seed and disinfect the tubers before sowing with 0.5% Agallol or with 0.25% Tafasan for 10 minutes.
  • Drill 80 kg of urea, 155 kg of superphosphate, 80 kg muriate of potash per acre at the time of sowing. Application of FYM and green manuring is beneficial for this crop. Omit muriate of potash and superphosphate and half of urea in case of green manured fields.
  • For weed control, use Atrataf 50 WP or Tafazine 50 WP at 200 gm or Stomp 30 EC at 1.0 litre per acre or Sencor 70 WP at 400 gm per acre as pre emergence application or Gramoxone at 500 ml per acre at the stage when most of the weeds have emerged and the potato crop showed 5-10% emergence. Use 250 to 300 litres of water in knapsack sprayer and 100 litres of water with power sprayer.

— Courtesy Progressive Farming, PAU.top

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