Why India’s beautiful flowers miss the plane of exports while other countries fly high

The week leading up to Valentine’s Day 2022 saw a frenzied scramble as twenty-four chartered flights set course for Europe from Nairobi Airport. Another half dozen flew to Dubai. These flights were packed not with people, but with 5,000 metric tons of fresh-cut flowers to be sold in European markets. Following a two-year Covid-19 induced shutdown, the global floral market was back with a bang. A flower buying frenzy created a 25 per cent jump in demand and a record high price at the world’s biggest flower auction, Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer in the Netherlands. In the same week, the number of dedicated cargo flights carrying flowers from India was zero.

India exported a modest 15,000 metric tons of flowers, mostly roses worth $78 million in 2020-21. During the same period, Kenya’s exports of cut flowers alone were $596 million (almost eight times that of India), and Ethiopia’s exports amounted to $191 million. While primary buyers and auction houses are in the Netherlands, well-oiled integrated supply chains ensure that farm-fresh flowers travel overnight from Africa to florists across Europe. Africa holds a monopoly over the European rose markets while Thailand and Malaysia control markets for niche, tropical flowers like orchids, and anthuriums which are in high demand in Japan and the UAE. One must ask, how did India miss the bus on this?

While the reasons for selecting orchids under ODOP might have been their abundance in the wild, CITES restricts plucking or exporting wild orchids to prevent illegal trafficking of protected species. This implies that, in practice, to find an actual market for these products, India needs to either revisit the ban on wild orchids or promote organized cultivation. Therein lies the second challenge. West Kameng with a population of fewer than 90,000 people, has almost no capital or infrastructure available to promote cultivation or market them globally.

Read the complete article at www.theprint.in.

 


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