Say it with flowers that last months

By TheHindu on 25 Nov 2016 | read
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The orchid is slowly but surely finding its footing in the floral market QUEEN OF FLOWERS:From a negligible contribution, the orchid’s market in Bangalore is now around Rs. 3 crore annually. QUEEN OF FLOWERS:From a negligible contribution, the orchid’s market in Bangalore is now around Rs. 3 crore annually.

Sporting myriad hues with rich ornamental value, the orchid has long fascinated collectors, especially in the West. But now, our own flower markets are cashing in on this queen of flowers, what with florists reporting rapid growth in demand over the past couple of years, mainly from flower arrangers. Most of this demand is being met by imports as local production remains low due to high input cost. But the orchid ranks among the high value flowers with higher returns, and is one of the fastest growing segments in floriculture.

Demand doubles

“The demand for orchid here is doubling each year. From a negligible contribution, its market in Bangalore is now around Rs. 3 crore annually,” said S.K. Gutgutia of Florance Flora, a leading plants dealer. He estimated that in the next two to three years its market size would be around Rs. 10 crore. Recent years have seen the demand for the bright and beautiful phalaenopsis double, overtaking that of the dendrobium.

Mr. Gutgutia sees huge potential for the orchids market, which is now a very modest 2 lakh plants a year compared to countries such as China where about 10 million orchid plants are sold each year.

Bangalore imports phalaenopsis (for both pot plants and cut flowers) from Holland, dendrobium (cut flowers), cattleya (pot plants), vanda and makara (both cut flowers) from Thailand.

Flowers also come from Singapore and Taiwan.

“There is a demand for about 5,000 to 10,000 flowers daily. The State’s production meets only a fraction of this demand,” says Sadananda Hegde, president, The Orchid Society of Karnataka.

High input cost

One of the main reasons attributed to low interest in orchid cultivation in Karnataka is the high input cost and long gestation period.

Dr. Hegde said: “Though manpower requirement is limited, investment is very high. It costs between Rs.35 lakh and Rs.40 lakh to create infrastructure to grow orchids. It will take a minimum of two years to start harvesting.”

Import of orchid seedlings, planting material and technology has resulted in high cost though the climate is very conducive, he added.

Despite this high cost, a small group of about 60 farmers in Sirsi region in Uttara Kannada district is currently cultivating dendrobium and phalaenopsis varieties, selling them in Bangalore, Goa and Mumbai.

In all, Karnataka has just a few hundred orchid farmers while the blooms register very little movement even in the International Flower Auction Bangalore.

Dr. Hegde said that though the National Horticulture Mission is now promoting orchids, the government needs to make efforts to promote cost-effective cultivation, create market connectivity as well as storage and collection centres.

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