TILL LAST year, when Pune-based Swati Katkar of Heera Flowers used to export roses for the Europe market during this time of the year, she would be left with 20 per cent of the produce for the local market. This year, however, she is facing a reverse trend. “The demand has dropped drastically. I have been able to export only 25 per cent roses this year. I will have to sell the rest in the local market,” says Katkar, whose rose farm is located on Nagar Road.
For rose growers, traders and those who export roses through agents, this Valentine’s Day hasn’t brought in good news. “The average rate that independent exporters used to earn earlier was Rs 150 to Rs 160 per bunch; now we are selling a bunch for Rs 80 to 90. Another factor that has caused the drop is the sharp fall in the demand for roses, especially of the variety Bordeaux – which was in high demand till last year. The growers assumed that the trend will be this year too and grew the same variety but that wasn’t the case. The variety named top secret is what’s selling this year. Besides, if the V-Day falls on a week day, the sale of roses pick up due to college crowd. This year, its falling on a Sunday,” says Katkar.
Swati Shinghade, an independent trader and supplier, says that for rose growers, the good business time is from October end to mid February. It picks up a little after April end when wedding season starts. “Our average income has fallen from Rs 5 per stem to Rs 2.5 per stem. The reason is that since exporters are not able to export much, their remaining production is diverted to the local market, which has caused an increase in the supply,” says Shinghade, who has been into the business from the last six years and has a rose farm in Baramati. She adds that there’s a bleak chance of rose business picking up in the coming months also because “the overall market is down globally; even during wedding season, I don’t think there will be too much demand. People are not spending much,” she adds.
Sagar Bhosale, another trader shares that by this time last year, he had already got bookings of nearly 10,000 bunch of roses. This year, so far, his bookings have barely reached 1,000 bunch. Even online bookings, he says, are minimal this year. “There’s an impression among growers that this could be happening because of social media, especially whatsapp – people are sending pictures of roses instead of buying the real ones,” he adds.
However, according to VS Jamma, president of Talegaon Floriculture Park Growers, the situation will pick up in a few days. “The demand from Europe cannot drop substantially because the extreme cold climate out there doesn’t support growth of roses; we have the ideal climate for rose production. As far as the local market is concerned, it will pick up by 6th to 7th February and will reach its peak by February 14,” says Jamma.