Goan cultivators have good scope in floriculture. But the business is capital intensive and requires hard work, patience, discovers Bhiva P Parab
The beautiful colour, freshness and fragrance of flowers are captivating and they are a symbol of expression and sight. For nearly everyone flowers give a feeling of happiness and joy. Goa which is famous for its natural beauty has good potential for flower sale owing to tourism and residents natural love for flowers. And so there is scope for commercial floriculture in the state.
Climatic conditions of Goa are suitable for cultivation of various flowers. Ground level check reveals that, floriculturists can go in for wide array of variety as there is good market both in the state and outside the state. Moreover cultivators receive good price for their blooms in the local market.
Altaf Shaikh of Golden Leaf Agrotech, India Pvt. Ltd, Sattari, claims to have major part of the market share in flower sales. He says that the floriculture business is extremely capital intensive business which is why many entrepreneurs hesitate to venture into the sector on a commercial scale. “If you see the government support it is not coming the way it should. However if one is ready to work hard, have patience and put in capital than there is quite good scope for this business,” points out Shaikh.
He explains that, demand for flowers is from residents as well as from outside the state. “It took me around three years to complete a detailed study of the market and currently my market share in orchids within the state itself is around 70 percent,” he claims.
“The Goa annual market for flowers is above Rs 25 crore annually. Demand is growing satisfactorily. The floriculture industry is a very price sensitive market and thus lot of initial hard work is needed. We have indentified customers according to their market presence, size, their own customer base, their flower requirement and frequency. As far as we are concerned our flowers both tropical flowers and orchids have market in Goa. We also supply the flowers to places like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. We started our operations in 2012 and our farm is spread across seven acres of which four acres of orchids and three acres are of tropical flowers,” he said.
Sheikh explains that, maintenance of orchids is not a big deal as the plants are very hardy by nature. However timely care is important and necessary. The grower has to regularly spray insecticides and if scheduled maintenance is not followed properly then the plants are at risk to be exposed to various diseases and pest attack. This in turn will delay the flowering process thereby affecting the yield.”
“In Goa and India also we have widest varieties in orchids and we have 14 colours in the Mokara, white, purple and the combination in Dendrobium. There are about seven colours in the Anthurium, a variety many growers have deemed unfit to be locally cultivated. Another tropical flower suitable for local cultivation is the ginger flower besides there are four different varieties in Heliconia,” he said.
Sheikh sourced his planting material from Thailand, the world capital of orchids. His team personally visited Thailand and handpicked the varieties that have good commercial market. The imported planting material was little expensive vis-à-vis those available in India. Through tissue culture method of cultivation the results were almost instantaneous and the plants started commercial production almost after six months of nurturing and gestation.”
Besides exotics like orchids there are several small farmers who mainly grow marigold flowers which are in demand throughout the year. However all the flowers like marigold which are available in the various local markets don’t come from Goan farmers. They are also brought from outside, viz. from neighbouring states like Karnataka.
The Goan market for flowers is unorganized, according to floriculturists. Flowers arrive at the wholesale market and from there the produce is distributed to the local retail outlets. Outside supply increases during the festival time. Some sales are through road side nurseries. However in cities there are some good florist show rooms where the display is with considerable attention.
The transport of flowers, depending on the kind, are in gunny bags, bamboo baskets, paper cartons or just wrapped in old newspapers and transported to markets.
A flower vendor said that demand is healthy for various flowers and especially marigold. The price varies according to the demand and supply. Flowers that come from outside the state are generally less costly and so local sellers find it difficult to compete on the price front. The consumption of flowers increases during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Dushera and during the festive season.
Goa’s share in the national floriculture trade is not be significant but Goa is showing enough potential to eventually turn itself as a favourite destination of flower, according to growers. The small land-holding pattern considered a handicap for the agricultural production is an advantage in floriculture. It is a business that is of low volume and high value character. It also has huge export potential. A number of small and marginal farmers have started turning towards flower production in the state and there is increasing domestic demand for various flowers from residents.
A flower grower said that demand is robust for orchids and traditional varieties such as jasmine and marigold. Sale of decorative flowers was less some years back but currently it is gaining momentum. Goa is bestowed with ideal temperature conditions for commercial floriculture and this would help entrepreneurs and growers in diversifying into floriculture as it has commercial value.
The grower went on to add that, floriculture is the study of growing and marketing flowers and foliage plants. It is an age old farming activity having immense potential for generating gainful self-employment among small and marginal farmers. Traditionally small farmers used to plant marigold and other flowers. There engaged in seasonal flower plantations. However in recent years floriculture has emerged as a profitable agri-business in the state. The production and trade of flowers has increased consistently over the years.
Despite there being good market for flowers, not many farmers go in for commercially cultivation on big scale in the state. Other problems facing the sector are lack of labour as the younger generation prefers to work in offices. The capital requirement is high and after the crop is ready it has to be marketed to reach the shops. So although floriculture has good revenue scope local farmers are not willing to make the effort towards it. But for those who have ventured into the fray the business is paying and fetches handsome income.