Domestic rose market blooms as exports wither

Agriculture Business Top Story

While the export-oriented Indian flower industry has yet to recover from the pandemic’s losses, rose farmers got a break on Valentine’s Day.

After two years, rose exports have managed to dampen the spirits of Indian flower farmers, who are being compensated in terms of price by domestic markets.

Rose markets suffering from poor exports due to the pandemic are relieved by record rose sales during the season of love. “The demand for roses was pretty good this Valentine’s season. After two years of export downfall, this year we got some relief. As Covid-19 curbs are being lifted people are greeting and meeting each other at functions. Plus, the Valentine season of this year was a consolation for rose farmers,” said Joy Alexander, a rose farmer in Karnataka.

The losses incurred during the pandemic, were made good for by a steep hike in prices of the flowers. The price of roses especially jumped from Rs 10 to Rs 15-18.

Despite the fact that the pandemic has changed the way we live and love, roses remain a popular emblem on Valentine’s Day. While demand and exports have increased over the last two years, rising freight costs, unseasonal rainfall, and a lack of new varieties are exposing the less rosy side of this picture.

As the market revived this year, the domestic exports spiked by 205 percent from 1.03 lakh kg to 3.15 lakh kg. However, the international exports comparatively fell behind even as it spiked 137 per cent  from 2.17 lakh kg to 5.15 lakh kg, said Satyaki Raghunath, Bangalore International Airport’s Chief Stratergy and Development Officer in a press release.

Spokesperson at Anand Exports, a flower exporter said that the rose exports did not see any growth in last two years. He said, “The international flower market is in a negative phase right now, though the international flight curbs have been lifted recently,  but we don’t see any demand for flowers. Currently we do not have any international order.” 

“In the last two years, every flight cancellation cost us Rs 1-2 lakh on each cargo,” said a representative for Zopar Exports, a Bengaluru-based rose exporter. Furthermore, during COVID-19, freight charges have increased. “Prior to the pandemic, freight charges ranged from Rs 60 to Rs 150 per kilogram; now, we have to pay Rs 200 per kilogram to airlines, and Rs 400 to 500 per kilogram for the European market. Because we lack a local distribution network, doing business in the United States is difficult,” he added. 

On Valentine’s Day this year, the airport saw a roughly two-fold surge in rose shipments, facilitating the transportation of about 5.15 lakh kg of roses to 25 international and domestic markets. In 2021, rose shipments totaled 2.7 lakh kilogram.

A press release from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), states that the domestic shipments have risen by more than 200 percent this season, at 3.15 lakh kg (almost 6.5 million stems), compared to 1.03 lakh kg in 2021. This year, almost 2 lakh kilograms (around 7.3 million stems) were transported to international destinations, up from 1.7 lakh kg last year.

Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Chandigarh are the main domestic rose destinations. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London, Amsterdam, Kuwait, Auckland, Beirut, Manila, Muscat, and Dubai are among the top foreign destinations for rose exporters in India. 

Data from Ministry of Industry and Commerce shows that India has sold 68,160 kg of roses to the world in December 2020, down 10 percent from 60,960 kg in December 2021.