Rose growers in South India, mainly Hosur, have for many years spread the scent of love on Valentine’s Day around the world. But the world seems to have jilted them for other options this time
Love may be in the air for the rest of the world as it celebrates Valentine’s Day on February 14. But for rose growers in Tamil Nadu, particularly those in Hosur, this Valentine season has been anything but rosy. The reason: People around the world seem to be jilting them and showering more love on their Kenyan counterparts. While Indian growers have seen their rose exports declining drastically amid stiff competition from Kenya, market prices in the existing markets have also fallen. And, these are happening at a time when the cultivation cost is rising, too. Earlier, Valentine’s Day on February 14 alone contributed 25-40 per cent of flower growers’ annual revenue. But not this time. Unlike 2017, which was drought year, flowers this year have been of a good quality, given good rains and climatic conditions. However, the different export markets this time have been affected by disparate reasons, say the growers in Hosur. Hosur and Bengaluru are hubs for flower cultivation in South India, while Pune and parts of Gujarat account for the bulk of cultivation in the northern parts. Of the country’s flower production, 25-35 per cent is accounted for by Hosur alone. In terms of production in South India, the town has a share of 75 per cent, according to Najeeb Ahmed, managing director of Tanflora Infrastructure Park, one of the largest exporters.
A joint venture between Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) and MNA & Associates, Tanflora has a capacity of producing 67.5 million of roses every year. The reasons for heartache Some countries like Australia have lately tightened their regulations to allow the import of only fumigated flowers, for which Indian cultivators lack large-scale capabilities. The exports to other strong markets like Singapore and Malaysia are also impacted this year, as the Chinese New Year falls on February 16. “The Chinese diaspora, which are a large part of the population in these countries, would be travelling to China. So, the demand for imported rose from them will get capped,” said Bala Siva Prasad, president of the Hosur Small Farmers’ Association. While Lebanon, another key export market, has seen a surge in domestic production this time, in the West Asian and African markets, Indian rose growers are facing stiff competition with Kenyan growers offering better quality of flowers at the same price. “Last year, Kenyan flowers were priced at Rs 600 per bunch (one bunch has 20 flowers), and our flowers cost Rs 300-340. But this year, while our products are priced at Rs 260-300 per bunch, they are matching that rate with superior quality of flower, posing a serious challenge,” said Chandrappa from CS Flora, a major flower exporter from Hosur. With a drop in exports this year, a decline in domestic prices has come as a double whammy close to Valentine’s Day, Chandrappa added. The price in the domestic market, at Rs 210-220 for a bunch earlier, has dropped to Rs 130. Many farmers had been holding up their stock in hope of a better price closer to February 14. But that did not happen. The international price for Hosur flowers has been Rs 17-18 per stem this year, compared with Rs 7-14 in the Indian market, said V Venkatachalam, president of Krishnapatnam Horticulture Federation, the apex body of farmers’ organisations. Making the matters worse, untimely rains in December also caused a production drop of 25-30 per cent. “I may not call it a good or bad year, it is an average year,” said Venkatachalam. There also were instances of consignments being returned for want of space in air cargo, an issue the industry has been facing for a while. The federation said it would request the government to allocate some space for the industry during the peak season, since the product has a limited market and shelf life.
First Published: Wed, February 14 2018. 09:16 IST