A detailed analysis of the Indian floriculture sector indicates that the country is endowed with diverse agro-climatic conditions needed for growing of a variety of flower crops throughout the year. ICAR - The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bengaluru, is taking important initiatives to strengthen the horticulture sector. Dr. M. R. Dinesh, Director, IIHR, spoke to BE’s Kuntala Sarkar.
Q. What are the major international floricultural hubs?
A. The floriculture industry globally is growing at a rate of 8%-10% per annum. More than 145 countries are involved in the cultivation of ornamental crops and only 50 countries are active in floriculture production on a large scale. International floricultural hubs have market places at different locations for serving the domestic market and export customers through flower auction complexes.
FloraHolland, the Netherlands is the biggest international flower market located at Aalsmeer. Other major international floricultural hubs include Veiling Rhein-Maas, Germany, Ota Floriculture Auction Co. Ltd., Japan, The Flower Auction, Japan (FAJ), Veilling Holambra, Brazil, Taipei Flowers Auction Co. Ltd. Taiwan, Ontario Flower Growers Co-operative, Canada, FloraMax Flower Auctions, New Zealand, FloraBella, Italy, and Dubai Flower Centre, the UAE.
Q. What are the major challenges faced by Indian horticulture sector players in the export market?
A. Export of flowers from India to the European Economic Community (EEC) is subject to custom duty at 15% during summer and 10.5% in winter which is quite high. Poor supply chain management due to insufficient storage andcold chain facilities is a problem in India. Centres forPerishable Cargo (CPCs) at airports and a vacuum cooling facility - especially at the Mumbai airport - for fresh flowers are also lacking. Indian exporters are facing poor availability of quality packing material. The dry flower industry requires chemicals for bleaching and fixation of dyes for which therange is vast due to different composition and properties. The industry is presently lacking enough expertise in this field. India also needs to develop indigenous protected cultivation technologies to reduce the establishment cost of protected cultivation units. Preference of cultivating the same cropof the same variety by a large number of farmers is also resulting in surplus which is leading to price-crash.
Q. How is the government aiding the horticulture sectorin India?
A. The central government is promoting the sector through a network of organisations such as the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), the National Horticulture Board (NHB), and the state horticultural departments. Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) is a centrally sponsored scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector and covers fruits, vegetables, flowers etc. MIDH also works closely with the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) towards development of micro-irrigation for all horticulture crops and for promoting protected cultivation. The National Horticulture Mission aims to promote half a dozen agri-export zones and flower clusters to encourage floriculture and the export of flowers. About 150 export oriented units (EOUs) are planned in and around the major floriculture hubs including Pune, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad.
APEDA is giving financial assistance for various horticulture activities. It has established four flower auction centres in Bengaluru, Noida (UP), Mumbai and New Delhi and set up marketing centres at Aalsmeer, Dubai, and Tokyo to promote Indian products. It has established Centres for Perishable Cargo (CPCs) at Bangalore, New Delhi, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, and Mumbai with varying capacities. About 60 Agriculture Export Zones (AEZs) have been notified indifferent states for specific horticultural commodities by the central government.
Q. Where is India placed in the competitive international floriculture market?
A. India ranks second considering flower crop area allocation (3,39,390 hectares during 2018-19) next to China. India’s present share in the global floricultural export market is negligible (around 0.61%) compared to the Netherlands (58%), Columbia (14%), Ecuador (7%), Kenya (5%), and Israel (2%). The industry in India has to shift from traditional flower cultivation to export oriented flower cultivation. India has its considerable weaknesses to compete in the international floriculture market. Lack of information to the producers is a challenge in planning for domestic and export markets. Excessive charge for air freight has also been a considerable problem for the Indian exporters. Heavy duty levied on Indian flowers in Europe - 18% in summer and 13% in winter - has impacted India negatively. Price fluctuation in both domestic and international markets is also a threat for the sector. Unorganised market pattern, weak infrastructure and post-harvest losses to the tune of 4.6% to 15.9% are also prominent deterrents. The recent demand for artificial flowers rather than original products in the global market is also a challenge.