A decline in possible exports has failed to dampen the spirit of Indian flower growers for whom domestic markets would now more than compensate in terms of prices.
Praveen Sharma, president of the Indian Society of Floriculture Professionals, while speaking to The Indian Express, said the losses of the first lockdown have been compensated by the higher prices the flowers, especially roses, have fetched after that.
Commercial cultivation of flowers, although done over a relatively small area, is an important generator of foreign exchange. Before the pandemic, the annual inflow to the exchequer, thanks to exports, was to the tune of Rs 57-58 crore. However, the pandemic had seen domestic consumption as well as exports dip with marriages and other functions remaining suspended. Many commercial cultivators had even abandoned their farms for exotic vegetables such as coloured cabbage and cherry tomatoes.
However, the industry’s fortunes have now turned with prices touching a historic high.
Sharma said that in November last year, a rose bunch was trading at Rs 300-400 as compared to the normal Rs 100-150. This was mainly due to the continuous opening up of the economy and pent-up demand in terms of marriages and other functions, he said. “Mumbai alone hosted around 1.1 lakh weddings while the country saw around 25 lakh weddings in a month, starting November 14,” he said. Many people who had got married during the lockdown also held public functions post relaxation of Covid-related restrictions, which further drove up the demand.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, on February 14, flower cultivators usually prepare special flushes to cater to the export markets. However, this year, Sharma said exports would be low for a variety of reasons chief among them being exceptionally good domestic prices weaning cultivators away from exports. Also, exponential rise in freight charges and global supply chain constraints have cast long shadow over export prospects, he added.
“The export from India is bound to decline this Valentine’s season, mainly due to better prices in domestic market with less fuss. The exporters are facing huge demand but hike in freight charges from normal Rs 150 to 200/kg to Rs 400 to 500/kg for European destinations is resulting in lower price offered to flower growers at Farmgate. The exports have declined drastically in last three years from Rs 57 crore to mere Rs 27 crore in 2021. This year, we are expecting this to fall further to the range of Rs 18 to 20 crore,” he said.