The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 2, 2000

The rosy bloom of success
By S.C. Dhall

Exports of flowers which was $ 2.5 million in 1990 has now crossed $ 15 million.

Over 450 different kinds of flowers are grown in India and 65000 hectares of land is under floriculture.


CHRISTMAS and new millennium celebration have given a boost to the floriculture industry in India.

Floriculture as a sunrise industry has a bright future in India.The demand for Indian flowers is rising and the prices are expected to stay stable. Apart from gaining in the form of tangible realisations the industry is expected to make an impact in the world market this year by delivering flowers on time. For this purpose, a number of exporters have decided to organise chartered flights. Meanwhile Indian flowers are able to hold the ground they gained three years back in Australia. India has a market share of 55 per cent in the Australia cut flower import market. Despite being new entrants in this field, Indian exporters have achieved a firm foothold in the USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan and the Netherlands. New openings have recently been made in the CIS countries, Australia, West Asia, Russia and the Scandinavian region.

  The South India Floriculture Association is even thinking of going Dutch and organising chartered flights to carry planeloads of flowers to Holland. The internal turnover of floriculture of Rs 215 crore was for puja and cosmetic purposes. Of late, there had been a marked rise in exports. The revolution in India came with the help of Dutch consultants, who seized the opportunity to sell their expertise, greenhouse, technology and planting materials. Likewise, the Israelis came with irrigation technology and fetigation systems.

Indian cut flowers are popular in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan. India has achieved the destination of being the biggest supplier of floriculture products to Japan. Investment worth more than Rs 6 billion has already been made in this sector over the last six years. Indian exporters have shown a 25 per cent increase over the last five years and 20 per cent in the first seven months of 1999.

Floriculture products exported from India include bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots, and cut flowers for bouquets, foliages, flowering plants and other live plants. Traditionally, the business of floriculture was mainly in bulbs, flowers, plants and foliage. The consumption of cut flowers with long stems is of comparatively recent origin and is the fastest growing segment now. Among the floriculture products that India had been exporting, the share of bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots and live plants has declined in India’s total floriculture exports. On the other had, share of fresh cut flowers has increased continuously from 5.3 per cent in 1993-94 to 30 per cent at present.

The Ministry of Agriculture at the Centre introduced a scheme in 32 states and union territories to introduce improved varieties of flowers of commercial importance, to intensify production of planting material and to introduce a modern system of production of flowers and post-harvest handling. The main components of the scheme, with an outlay of Rs 100 million are establishment of model floriculture centres, setting up of 20 small tissue culture units in the private sector for the plant material multiplication, providing incentives to the farmers in the scheme areas to grow traditional and non-traditional flowers and establishment of five major centres in the private sector.

The National Horticulture Board has formulated a scheme to provide assistance in the form of soft loans to floriculture units, with a view to encourage exports. Incentives to floriculture include reduction of the import duty on items like seeds and bulbs to zero and bringing down to 35 per cent the duty on green house items and seed development machinery. Income tax and other tax concessions have been granted to new floriculture exporting companies.

The Union Budget for 1999-2000 has extended the tax holiday benefit for operating cold chains. The budget provides a 100 per cent tax holiday for five years for cold chains. In the case of companies, a 25-30 per cent deduction from profits derived from operating cold chains. APEDA is also playing a vital role in consolidating the strength for floriculture industry.

Over 450 different kinds of flowers are grown in India. It is estimated that 65000 hectares of land is under floriculture. The major flower growing states are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. A salubrious climate, inexpensive labour and sunshine in winter make India ideal for floriculture. During November to March — the period of peak production — whether is very conducive for top quality production in India. Unlike some African countries, the months are free from adverse climatic disturbance like monsoon and rainstorm. According to a Dutch expert, the Indian high light intensity has the positive influence of intensifying the colours of some varieties. The result is good demand and average prices.

The prospect of better return on value-added floriculture has attracted a number of investors. Floriculture as a sunrise industry has a bright future in India.