At a time when farmers across the country are struggling to realise even the cost of production due to the sustained fall in the prices of agricultural commodities, rose growers have plenty of reasons to cheer due to a sharp increase in the price of the flower this Valentine’s Day season.
Rose, a symbolic expression of love, has become costlier by up to 100 per cent, with demand rising from multi-lingual and multi-cultural consumers in economically advanced cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi. According to industry sources, realisation has jumped to Rs 15 a stem this Valentine’s Day season from Rs 7-9 the previous year. And it isn't just single young boys and girls who are driving demand. Married couples have also been buying roses by the stem or a bouquet in celebration of the day.
With the demand for roses being exceptionally good this season, Indian companies have, for the first time, imported several consignments of the flower from South America and Africa to bridge the demand-supply gap.
Indian companies have imported around 10-15 shipments of roses from Ethiopia, Kenya and Ecuador, among other countries, for distribution in India, at prices ranging between Rs 5-5.50 a stem. With an import duty of 60 per cent and other incidentals, the cost of each imported stem works out to Rs 10. The flower is sold for Rs 15 a stem in domestic markets. India’s import of roses is estimated to be 2-3 per cent of the total demand. The industry foresees future imports from Thailand and other Asian countries.
“The domestic market has been extremely remunerative. We are getting a better price in India than (in) London. The domestic market has been very aggressive for the first time this year. This is the best Valentine for Indian rose growers in the last 25 years. Rose prices are holding strong over the last six months, rendering business profitable even for companies that don’t export,” said Ramakrishna Karuturi, Managing Director, Karuturi Global Ltd, one of India’s largest exporters of rose stems with plantings in Ethiopia.
Compared to the actual income of Rs 15 a stem from domestic markets, rose price is ruling at US cents 40 (Rs 28) a stem in London and other European markets. But, considering high cost of air freight, handling and transportation from farm to airport for exports, the actual realization for farmers works out to less than Rs 10 a stem.
Interestingly, the Valentine’s Day celebration is co-inciding with the long wedding season, due to which there has been a multiplier effect on rose demand in the country this year.
“India’s rose demand has risen by at least 20 per cent this year due to increased interest in Valentine’s Day and the ongoing wedding season as well. While roses are used for decoration in the flower bouquet throughout the year, the bumper demand takes place only for four-five months. And it has been exceptionally good this year,” says Narendra Patil, Vice President, Soex Flora, a Pune-based rose grower and exporter.
Farmers have, for the first time, found floriculture to be a profitable business, with average income rising from Rs 5–6 lakh per acre last year to Rs 10 lakh this year.
Data compiled by the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (Apeda) showed a sharp decline in average realisation from floriculture exports, at $3,626 a tonne for the first nine months of the current fiscal ended December 2018, from $3,724 during the same period last year. For the entire financial year 2017-18, however, average realisation was reported at $3,804 a tonne from floriculture. India’s floriculture exports were up marginally by 7.5 per cent in volume terms to 16,630 tonnes between April–December 2018 from 15,478 tonnes a year ago.
The Indian floriculture market size was estimated at Rs 13,000 crore in 2017, and growing 20 per cent a year. By 2023, the market is projected to achieve Rs 39,400 crore. Roses make up nearly half the overall floriculture market.