Floriculture wilts as temperatures soar, water scarcity adds to misery

The floriculture sector in the country is going through a rough patch owing to soaring temperature and water shortage.

Published: 12th April 2017 05:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2017 05:46 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The floriculture sector in the country is going through a rough patch owing to soaring temperature and water shortage. With groundwater depleting and bore wells going dry, production has taken a hit, impacting both export and local business. Outdoor floriculture, which caters to majority of the local needs, has nearly come to a standstill because of water scarcity induced by the climatic condition.

The situation is alarming in Karnataka, which accounts for bulk of the country’s floriculture industry. Karnataka exports roses to West Asia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. However, this summer being extra harsh, export activities have taken a hit. Taj Mahal, the priced variety of red rose which sees the most export, is failing to fetch business.

According to data available with the Union Ministry of Agriculture, the total value of the floriculture business has come down from Rs 460.76 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 306.95 crore in 2015-16.

Karnataka accounts for a large portion of the floriculture business in the country with a total cultivated area of 30,900 hectares, followed by Tamil Nadu which has a cultivated area of 55,000 hectares of floriculture. Karnataka also is a leading producer of loose flowers at 220,000 tonnes per year (as per data compiled by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation).

The bud size of the flowers have become small because of the heat and, hence, cannot be exported. While previously Karnataka used to cater to the demand for roses in Australia and New Zealand, this market, too, has come down because of the quality of produce having gone down, said Anne Ramesh, member of International Flower Auction Bangalore and president of South India Florist Association. “Climatic conditions have played a huge impact and water scarcity looms large. Some people are resorting to water harvesting but not all farmers can afford to invest in water harvesting technology.”

The past two summers have been harsh and production of good quality roses has become difficult, said Shwetha Yogesh, partner of Red Blossom Florists. “The more the temperature, the more the pests and, hence, there is a decrease in quality. The number of roses exported by us every month stand at nothing less than 1.5 million pieces. However, at the moment, it is not more than 10,000,” she said.

The temperature having gone up, flowers are wilting and maintenance has become an issue, said Shivraj, who runs Bangalore Florists. “Production has come down and the prices have gone up. Taj Mahal variety of rose, for instance, used to be Rs 70 per bunch and now this has become Rs 120. The prices of almost all flowers have gone up.”

Outdoor floriculture, majorly seen in the Tumakuru district has suffered a huge impact, too. “Floriculture is water-intensive. Owing to drought and the climate change, over the past two years, production has been affected a lot,” said Sharath Hittalamane, retired additional director of horticulture. Due to water scarcity, production has almost come to a standstill, he said.

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