Thursday, December 23, 2004

Blooming roses make IT blush

Blooming roses make IT blush
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The being-Bangalored phenomenon is positively blooming.... even beyond IT. India has already managed to nudge out Holland as the largest exporter of flowers to Japan.

And when someone in the UK gifts a posy to a loved one this coming Valentine’s, chances are that it will be from Bangalore.

The Christmas season kicks off the demand for flowers, which continues right up to Valentine’s day in February.

Already, ASDA, a subsidiary of US retail chain Wal-Mart, has ordered 1 million cut roses for UK – a Rs.65-lakh order – from Bangalore-based Karuturi Networks. ‘‘We will have two special charters to the UK to cater to this order alone,’’ says K.S.Ramakrishna, managing director of Karuturi.

Karuturi, a listed company, expects to export between 50-70 tonne of roses during Christmas and 400-450 tonne for Valentines.

The buoyant mood pervades the floriculture industry. Industry experts say this year is expected to beat all forecasts. Nadeem Ahmed of CCL Flowers and president of the South Indian Floriculture Association (SIFA) says, ‘‘We expect to export 1,200 tonnes this fiscal with about 40 percent for the Valentine season.’’ Last year, India exported 600-700 tonnes, with 300-400 tonnes for the Valentine season.

Bangalore contributes 75-80% of India’s roses, with Pune, Mumbai and Delhi chipping in with the rest.

Apart from UK, India exports to Singapore, Middle-East, Australia and Europe.

If exports are booming, so is the domestic market. Industry sources are reluctant to put a figure to the market size but say that on an average, around 2 lakh stems are sold across India during this season. This can well be beyond 1 million stems during Christmas.

‘‘The domestic market is rebounding. So much so that flower producers are in a quandary as to whether to export or sell their flowers domestically,’’ Ramakrishna says.

If you’re wondering why the flower trade is so enticing, here it is: According to Ramakrishna, the average price of a rose is Rs.4.50 while the cost of producing it is Rs.1.25.

Of course, there are the grouses like high freight tariffs. But Ramakrishna says a delegation from Karnataka, led by former Prime Minister H.D.Deve Gowda, will meet Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in New Delhi on Dec.30 to thrash out these thorny issues.


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