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Not so rosy Valentine’s day! Short winter may impact rose exports from Maharashtra

Nanda Kasabe

The vagaries of weather in Maharashtra, including the extended monsoons, the cloud cover and a short winter spell, are likely to impact export of roses from the state this Valentine's season.

Rose growers in Bengaluru, however, expect a good crop because of supportive weather. Around 50 lakh tonne of roses are expected to be exported this season, said TM Aravind of the South Indian Floriculture Association.

Rose growers in Maharashtra said the domestic market could prove to be more lucrative for them than the export market. Exports from the state could be impacted by up to 25-30%, said Shivajirao Bhegade of Pune District Flower Growers Association, adding that they were expecting roses to sell at a premium this Valentines's Day.

"Normally, roses require around 50-52 days for maturing and they are harvested from January 20-21 onwards. However, this year there has been no cold weather as a result of which the roses have matured before time. Low temperatures are required for roses to bloom late and stay fresh for exports and that has not happened, Bhegade said.

A prolonged monsoon is usually followed by a prolonged winter and this time the winter spell has been extremely short, leading to miscalculation on the part of growers, he pointed out.

"The weather has impacted rose buds. Fungus and bacterial infection have affected the quality of roses. The long bud and stem fetches the best prices. If the roses are small, then profits are down," he said.

Bhegade expects around 75 lakh stems to be exported from Maval region - a major floriculture belt in the state. Last year, around 1 crore stems were exported. In contrast, around 1.25 crore stems are expected to be sold in the domestic market this season as opposed to 75 lakh stems the previous year.

The local markets include Delhi, Bhopal, Jaipur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Indore, Ahmadabad, Kanpur, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chandigarh. India's traditional export markets for roses include Europe, Dubai, Japan and the UK.

Flower growers have begun harvesting from January 8 onwards, well ahead of time and these are being sent to the domestic market, he said. This may lead to a decline in supply of flowers for the Valentine's which falls on February 14 although there is huge demand from the export market, he added.

Significantly, the decline in the production numbers by Valentine's could see the stems sell for a premium. Roses which are normally sold at Rs 12 per stem could go up to Rs 20 per stem by February 14.

The area under rose cultivation in Maharashtra's Maval (Talegaon) region, which is known for floriculture, has gone up to 2,500-3,000 acres. This region accounts for nearly 70% of the total rose production in the country for the Valentine's Day. Exports commence from January 25 and the last consignment usually ends by February 9.
Bhegade said that growers were getting Rs 12 per stem for exports and that the supply was lower despite demand.

Pravin Sharma, president of the Indian Society of Floriculture Professionals, pointed out that temperature has played a major role this season because of which farmers who were expecting to harvest their roses by January 25, saw their flowers bloom by January 20th itself.

There could be a 5-10% drop in the supply for Valentine's Day, he said, adding that some smart farmers, however, have the capacity to store their flowers for 15 days in sanitised cold storage and therefore may not lose much.

Flowering usually begins by January 25 and peaks between February 1-7, he said. The detailed survey conducted by the Society is expected to be released in a couple of days.

TM Aravind said that rose exports could go up to 50 lakh tonne as opposed to 40 lakh tonne. Bengaluru accounts for around 20-25 lakh tonne and the rest comes from Pune, he said, adding that the winter spell in Bengaluru still continues which has proved to be good for rose growers in Karnataka.