India’s floriculture market almost vanishes as farmers destroy crop

Flower farmers across the country have started uprooting full blossom plants amid difficulty in selling their produce following the closure of several mandis and shops because of the nationwide lockdown.

Maintaining flowers in and off the field requires heavy investments and favourable climate. But, transportation to cold storages has become tough because of unavailability of labourers and logistics facilities. Also, demand for flower has plummeted amid the lockdown.

Farmers anticipate a big jump in demand from February to May because of weddings and several festivals. But, most weddings were put off following the imposition of the lockdown; festivals, such as Gudi Padwa and Akshaya Tritiya, remained low key affairs.

The lockdown has hit farmers hard. As mandis and shops of stockists and retailers are closed, the demand for flower in this ongoing wedding season has collapsed. There is no certainty as to how long these restrictions will continue. Even the farmers are now unwilling to harvest flowers and have started destroying their plants. Farmers are reported to be uprooting their plants to keep the field vacant and maintain the quality of soil for the next round of plantation.

Flowers with short shelf life cannot be stored in the warm climate and hence, require to be harvested immediately after maturing. Besides, harvesting requires fresh investment in terms of labour cost for handling and storage. To avoid incurring such additional cost for no returns, farmers have chosen to uproot their plants.

Industry sources estimate the Indian floriculture market to be worth Rs 2,000 crore. At a projected average annual growth rate of 20 per cent, the country’s floriculture market is estimated to jump to Rs 5,580 crore by 2025. Major flower growing states in India include Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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