Bengaluru, India's tech capital is also its rose basket

Rose Day (February 7) kicks off Valentine week, during which affections are revealed or strengthened with the exchange of roses. But, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, every day is Rose Day. Around four to five lakh roses are harvested daily in the city; the greenhouses together cover about 2,000 acres. Open field cultivation, too, produces a significant number of roses. The flowers are grown throughout the year in India’s tech capital, which has emerged as the nation’s rose basket.

The many floriculturists who migrated to Bengaluru suburbs in the 1990s have reaped rewards. Shrikanth Bollapally, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, moved to Doddaballapur near Bengaluru around 20 years ago. He grows roses in greenhouses on his 35-acre farm. Bollapally, who is president of the Flower Council of India, is from an agricultural family. But, no one in his family is into floriculture; they grow sugarcane, paddy, soybeans and sunflowers in Andhra Pradesh.

“I wanted to do something innovative in floriculture,” Bollapally told. “I took a bank loan and started greenhouse rose cultivation.” His business had grown and was doing well. But, Covid-19 posed a major challenge because of the postponement and cancellation of weddings and other events. “I am dependent on the Indian market,” he said. “Other big floriculturists in the area also export.” Things are slowly getting back on track for Bollapally and many others like him.

Open field cultivation has been a tradition in and around the city for a long time, while greenhouse cultivation became popular only in the mid-1990s. People used to grow garden variety roses, but greenhouses focus on hybrid varieties of Dutch roses. The Indian government was quick to recognise the potential for export. “In the western hemisphere, one cannot grow roses for six months because of the cold and if roses have to be grown in lighthouses, the energy costs go up,” said Thilak Subbaiah, a Bengaluru-based horticulture consultant, who specialises in rose cultivation. He added that roses generally grow well in places where the average temperature is between 28 to 30 degrees Celsius during the day and between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius at night.


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