According to an ancient legend in Greek mythology, roses were created from the tears of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and the blood of her lover, Adonis. During the time of Alexander the Great, roses were already very popular in Europe and Asia but the Macedonian king reportedly increased their popularity in Egypt. Since time immemorial, roses have been used as a symbol of love and passion. Over the years, various other dimensions have been added to the flower. It has emerged as the symbol of world peace and integrity. Moreover, its products like rose oil have emerged as important consumer products that are widely exported and imported in various countries.
The World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) was founded in 1968 at London by the representatives from rose societies of Australia, Belgium, Israel, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, Great Britain, and the United States of America. Kelvin Trimper, Past President, WFRS told BE, “The common purpose of the federation is to share information about rose and to promote it worldwide.” He also added that an important activity of the WFRS is to promote new varieties of roses and their independent trialling.
Recently, the World Regional Rose Convention 2020 was held in Kolkata at the Agri-Horticulture Society of India (AHSI). Herianne de Briey, President, World Federation of Rose Societies, said at the occasion, “Since time immemorial, the rose has been linked with the Indian way of life and our queen of flowers is part of the art and the science of worldwide floriculture.” Sunil Kanoria, President, AHSI, at the inauguration said that the society was delighted to host the World Regional Rose Convention 2020 along with the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS), the Indian Rose Federation and the Bengal Rose Society. He added, "Together, we will ensure a never-before-seen visual delight and horticultural extravaganza."
The Indian floriculture industry comprises of flowers like rose, tuberose, glads, anthurium, carnations, marigold, and others. India's total export of floriculture amounted to Rs. 571.38 crore ($81.94 million) in 2018-19. The major importing countries include the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates. In India, there are more than 300 export-oriented units. Among them, almost 50% of the floriculture units are based in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Rose is the most preferred flower in the international market. India has a very high potential for export of cut flowers. India has a favourable climatic condition for production of flowers for trade in winter (October-March) when the demand in Europe is very high. An article titled, “An economic analysis for export of fresh cut rose flowers from India” in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry stated, “In terms of area under roses, India ranks first with a share of 46.54% to the world area under cut roses grown in the year 2012-13.” The article further informed that India’s cut roses export increased from 1978 tonnes (2015-16) to 2518 tonnes (2017-18) and registered a 27.3% increase.
Valentine’s Day creates a huge demand for the Indian rose farmers. According to the Indian Society of Floriculture Professionals (ISFP), roses worth approximately Rs. 27-30 crore were exported by Indian rose growers for Valentine’s Day celebrations in 2019, which was higher than the figure of 2018 that amounted to Rs. 23 crore.
According to available data, European countries like Germany, the UK, France, Belgium, Italy and Denmark together have 40.53% share in importing cut roses and India’s share in the import of these six countries amounts to only 1.65%. According to industry insiders, the reason behind this might be due to 40% cost advantage to competing African countries. The shares of African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia in the import of cut roses in Europe were 21.60% and 9.92%, respectively, of total imports of cut roses in Europe in 2015-16.
Regarding the problem of rose cultivation in India, market insiders are of the opinion that irregular rainfall has been a significant problem for rose growers across the country. While the rose gardens of outer Bengaluru have begun to wilt due to dry climes, the flower farms on the Deccan plateau are battling excessive rains and low sunlight.
In today’s world of globalisation and open economy, a new dimension has been added to the symbol of rose where international integrity is being redefined. Reacting to this, Trimper noted, “Rose is the world’s most popular flower. It is used across cultures as many different symbols and in many different ways. However, internationally, it is the symbol of peace. So people, show love through rose irrespective of citizenship, race, religion, and ethnicity.”