International Flora Expo IN NEW DELHI from today
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 10
Among the biggest contributors to the country’s growing flower power are Punjab and Haryana and the Himachal-Shivalik belt, while at its core are the 30-crore middle class and higher income Indians who are ensuring that the consumption grows at a whopping 30 per cent per annum - the fastest perhaps in any sector.
Growing in-house demand is also pushing India as a major importer. Flower imports are not encouraged officially following high import duties but traders are still importing to meet the growing demand, a clue perhaps for farmers to diversify to flowers in a major way.
While Germany is the largest consumer, Holland is the largest importer and exporter of flowers in the world.
“Flowers are for all occasions - celebrations, marriage, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and even death,” says S Jafar Naqvi, president of the Indian Flowers and Ornamental Plants Welfare Association (iFlora), and one of the organisers of the International Flora Expo beginning in Delhi from January 11.
Rising incomes, globalisation and awareness are all contributors to this growth story which started with export oriented units around two decades ago in 1993.
The exports peaked in 2006-07 when India shipped flowers worth Rs 750 crore in 2006-07, just a drop when compared to Holland which does flower business worth $ 17 billion, says Jafar.
As of now, India’s export market has dipped to Rs 350 crore but the domestic market has grown to Rs 13,000 crore and the reason is better prices within India than abroad.
Punjab, Haryana and the Himachal-Shivalik belt are emerging as the fastest growing areas for cultivation of flowers, while Chandigarh and Amritsar are proving to be “good” consumers.
Reasons are quite predictable. “Punjabis have better exposure to western lifestyles, where per person per year consumption of flowers ranges between $10 and 15. Also Punjabis have stronger overseas connection so they adapt to the culture faster, therefore Chandigarh and Amritsar are emerging as major consumers.
“The region is among the biggest utilisers of allocations under the National Horticulture Mission. Infrastructure like green houses and poly houses are selling the maximum in Punjab and area under flower cultivation is also increasing,” Jafar explains.
For Punjab farmers, looking for replacement to water-guzzling paddy, flowers may be too small an answer but it is emerging as one of the ways to make some extra cash in between the seasons.
“Plus flowers are more environmentally friendly as they require much less water than other crops. Water used by flood irrigation method in one hour is sufficient to irrigate flowers for a month using the drip irrigation method,” he says.