FLOWER FARMING IN INDIA
Flower farming is also called floriculture. India is bestowed with several agro-climatic zones that are conducive for the production of a wide variety of flowers. Floriculture is commercially cultivated in several states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Haryana, Assam and Chhattisgarh. Indian floriculture industry comprises of flowers such as Rose, Tuberose, Gladiolas, Anthurium, Carnations, Marigold, Jasmine, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, etc. Cultivation is undertaken in farms, poly houses and green houses.
Flower farming is an age old concept in India and one that has immense demand and potential. India’s total export of floriculture was Rs. 548.74 crore last year. More than 50% of the floriculture units are based in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The Government of India has identified floriculture as a booming industry and accorded it 100% export oriented status. Commercial floriculture has emerged as hi-tech activity taking place under controlled climatic conditions inside a greenhouse.
The new seed policy had already made it feasible to import planting material of international varieties. Indian floriculture industry has been shifting from traditional flowers to cut flowers for export purposes. Floriculture products mainly consist of cut flowers, pot plants, cut foliage, seeds bulbs, tubers, rooted cuttings and dried flowers or leaves. The important floricultural crops in the international cut flower trade are rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, gerbera, gladiolus, gypsophila, liastris, nerine, orchids, archilea, anthuriu, tulip, and lilies. Floriculture crops like gerberas, carnation, etc are grown in green houses. The open field crops are chrysanthemum, roses, gaillardia, lily marigold, aster, sunflowers, tuberose etc.
In India flowers are considered extremely important in more ways than one can imagine. For instance, they are not just ornamental decoration but used profusely for religious festivals, functions, weddings, as offering to God in temples and so on. Many people grow flowers in their own home garden due to the daily necessity and consumption. They are offered to God in homes as well in the pooja areas or mandaps set in homes. Hence the demand is severe and flowers are revered here.
Jasmines in particular are grown abundantly and plucked and made into flower garlands that can be put on one’s own hair or offered to the deity in temples. Garlands are made from numerous flowers and in famous temples such as Tirumala Tirupathi, Madurai Meenakshi etc they are used in vast numbers. There are people dedicated to garland making activities alone based on the humungous demand.
Flower production all-in-all is a huge industry and one that will never go out of style in India and provides and livelihood to millions. The climatic conditions in India are conducive to produce most varieties of flowers. Flowers are propagated by seeds, shoots and bees and butterflies. Bees and butterflies are the natural forms of propagation as they spread seeds all around and increase yield. Flowers are grown throughout the year successfully. Flowers are grown in about 65000 hectares of land. The area of production under cut flowers has also gone up in the recent past.
More than two thirds production area is devoted for production of traditional flowers, which are marketed loose. Some examples of traditional flowers are marigold, jasmine, chrysanthemum, aster, crossandra, tuberose etc. The area under cut flower crops used for bouquets, arrangements etc. has grown. The major flowers in this category are rose, gladiolus, tuberose, carnation, orchids and more recently liliums, gerbera, chrysanthemum, gypsophila etc.
The production of flowers is estimated to be nearly 300,000 metric tons of loose flowers and over 500 million cut flowers with stem. Several export units have been set up to export flowers to other countries successfully. Some major cut flower crops are rose, gladiolas, tuberose, and so on. Marigold is an important variety of traditional loose flower that is cultivated on a large scale and comes in various varieties. It can easily be grown at home as well or in green houses. A lot of research and investment is being done in the floriculture industry to promote floriculture further.
Tissue culture has been adopted to floriculture crops for mass multiplication of planting material. Flowers are usually brought to local markets and sold to retailers or consumers. Florist shops are present on every street in India in every city. Flowers are sold in buckets and are bought as bouquets for various occasions such as Valentine’s Day, birthday, anniversary, celebration of success, parties, house warming, etc. Marketing of flowers is not as organized currently as it could be but efforts are being made to slowly change this trend. Similarly the packaging and transportation of flowers from production centers to wholesale markets is also not very well established. Flowers are usually packed in gunny bags and transported.
Cut flowers are in big demand and there is a lot of potential for cut flower production and development. Model Floriculture Centers set up in 11 major production zones serve as focal units for development in the region. There are also special government programs for area expansion in floriculture with state assistance. The National Horticulture Board, a major developmental agency for horticulture, also makes available finances as soft loan for setting up integrated projects for production and marketing flowers.
The Indian Floriculture industry is suffering major constraints in terms of export and this can be attributed to several reasons such as lack of air space on major airlines etc. There is an urgent need to create better export plans and policies to improve international sales. The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has therefore introduced several schemes for promoting floriculture exports from the country. Flower production on mass scales requires storage facilities as well to keep the flowers fresh till they are sold and in this respect, initiatives have been launched to provide cold storage and cargo handling facilities.