Floriculture is a segment of horticulture that deals with the commercial production and marketing of cut flowers and green leaves, landscape plants, bedding plants, houseplants, green interior walls and potted plants. It has gradually flourished as a profitable business and has gained substantial traction from agriculturalists due to its commercial success even in small landholdings as compared to traditional food grains. The ‘Future Market Insights’ states that the global floriculture market is expected to have a two-fold revenue growth between 2019 and 2029. Religious and social occasions are responsible for the high growth of the global floral business.
The flower business has a multi-billion dollar market worldwide. Europe, North America and China are the key consumers. The most important global exporters in the floriculture sector are Netherlands, Columbia, Ecuador, Kenya, Belgium, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Italy, Germany, Israel, China and Thailand.
European countries enjoyed the highest export of cut flowers during 2018 amounting to 55.4% ($5 billion) of the business worldwide. African exporters stood at 10.3% and Asian exporters stood at 6.4% respectively. Netherlands is the main hub of production and export of cut flowers in Europe and also globally. It accounts for around 47.8% (according to the latest available data for 2018) of the global market share. Rose, lavender, cherry blossoms, sunflowers and tulips are the country’s most appreciated flowers.
The African floral market that lost its grip in the last decade has started to pick up again in last few years. Kenya and Ethiopia are the two most successful African countries. Along with the advanced irrigation facilities, geographical conditions in Ethiopia favour the cultivation of a wide variety of horticultural products.
According to available data, Asia has the maximum area under cultivation for floriculture. Malaysia, China and Thailand are the three most significant countries in the business. The Indian floriculture market was worth Rs. 157 billion in 2018. The market is further projected to reach Rs. 472 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 20.1% during 2019-2024. Orchids, rhizomes, gingers, heliconias and rose are the most exotic flowers of Asia.
India’s share in the global fresh flower market is around 0.50%. India has exported around 19726.57 MT of floriculture products worth `571.38 crore in 2018-2019. But the proportion of area under floricultural in India is only 0.76%. The investment in this field is also very low compared to other countries. If few large players are kept aside, the majority of the flower producers in India are small and marginal farmers who face many constraints. There is urgent need for governmental financial support to boost the sector.
The central government has identified floriculture as a sunrise industry and accorded it 100% export oriented status. The Indian floriculture industry has been shifting from traditional flowers to cut flowers meant mainly for exports. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and West Bengal are the major floriculture hubs in India and these states are also the major exporters. The US, Netherlands, the UK, Germany and the United Arab Emirates are the major importing countries.
The National Horticulture Board informs that imports of flowers in India have been highest from Thailand amounting to 17541.47 lakh (1773.79 MT) in FY 2017. During the same period, India has exported highest flowers to the US amounting to 9917.01 lakh (3764.94 MT). This clearly indicates that there is a massive scope for India to expand its floricultural exports.
India’s major offerings in the global cut flower market include rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, cargera, gladiolus, orchids, tulip and lilies. Gerberas and carnation are being cultivated in green houses. But exotic Indian flowers like chrysanthemum, dahlia, marigold and nymphaea nelumbo need to be popularised.
For profitable growth of a floricultural hub, substantial nursery operation, chemical protection, professional storage and handling are needed. Flowers that are being exported for commercial purposes have very short life-spans. Thus climate controlling facilities is needed at ports, airports and rail stations.
Drying has always been a very important part of floriculture. It is a process to dry the flowers under artificially produced heat through controlled temperature, humidity and air flow to keep the flower lively for a longer time-span. Increasing technological innovations in this field is the crucial factor. In developed, export-driven floriculture markets the flowers are placed in desiccant (anhydrous) elements like sand, silica gel, boric acid, borax, saw dust, alum powder after harvesting and preparing. The Indian floriculture market needs more of such innovations to succeed in the global market. However, floriculture research in India has made some significant contributions as well. The world’s first genetically modified bio-luminescent variety of orchid has successfully been developed by the National Institute of Education (NIT), India. More such efforts will strengthen the Indian floriculture market.