Floriculture exports are likely to grow 17-20 per cent for the year ended March, on the back of increased shipment of cut roses during Valentine's Day early this year. Between April 2012 and February 2013, India exported 23,000 tonnes of flowers worth Rs 385 crore, growth of 16.6 per cent over the corresponding period in the previous year.
"The export figures for March are not available. Going by the trend in the first 11 months of last year, we can estimate the full fiscal year exports in the range of Rs 425 crore," an official from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), said.
India exported flowers worth Rs 365 crore during 2011-12, a growth of 23.3 per cent over the previous year.
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the leading flower producing states in the country. Uttaranchal and Mizoram are emerging as new centres for cut flowers. Some exporters from Tamil Nadu are engaged in the export of dried flowers from Tuticorin and account for Rs 60-80 crore worth exports annually.
During Valentine's Day this year, exporters witnessed higher orders from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Gulf countries. Christmas and Mother's Day were other occasions that fuelled demand for flowers from the country. "Exporters from Bangalore alone exported four million cut flower stems worth Rs 6 crore for this year's Valentine's Day, about 10 per cent more than last year," Jayaprakash Rao, general secretary, South India Floriculture Association (SIFA), said.
"Demand in the month of February was better than in other months. March was not so good this year. The producers could not convert the large number of enquiries into orders, as there were many problems to grow as many flowers. The acute shortage of water and supply of quality power affected our production. We even had to uproot rose plants due to shortage of water, which affected our supplies," Mammen Mappillai, managing director, Indo Blooms Ltd, a flower exporter from Bangalore, said.
India's flowers are in great demand from traditional markets, such as Europe, Australia, West Asia and Japan. Besides, some exporters like Indo Blooms Ltd have tapped the Japanese market.
The producers' problems are compounded by the shortage of labour and high transportation costs.
"India's exports would have been much higher last fiscal, if the government had approved air freight subsidy in time. Many exporters could not fulfil orders due to the absence of subsidy," he said.
India accounts for less than one per cent of the global floriculture trade, which is dominated by Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Colombia. Regions around Bangalore and Pune are the major production centres for cut flowers like roses and carnations.