Sun, 15 Sep, 2019

Flower power: A look at the benefits of floriculture in Goa

Since there is a demand for flowers in Goa all-year round, there is scope for floriculture to flourish, and if local farmers consider all other options of growing foliage and marigold along with cut flowers like orchids and gerberas, Goa can produce 50% of its demand and retain `25 crore annually

14th January 2019, 02:35 Hrs


Where words fail, flowers do the job. Happiness or sorrow, flowers express all emotions aptly and as people know this all over the world, this perishable commodity is very much in demand. Goa is no exception to this universal rule and one may feel exaggerated but the yearly turnover in cut flowers in the state is Rs 50 crore or even more! The cut flowers that are mostly in demand are roses, carnations, gerberas, hybrid chrysanthemums, orchids, anthuriums, foliage, and daisies. There are also golden rod, asparagus, cyprus or cajuarina and kamini leaves which are required to blend with the cut flowers in a bouquet.  

Considering the average purchase of flowers every day is of Rs 10 lakh in Goa, it reaches to Rs 3 crore a month, that is Rs 36 crore annually. Add to this the peak seasons of weddings, festivals and other holidays, and the sales easily go to Rs 50 crore per year. 

“However, 90 per cent of the money currently goes out of the state, as Goa cannot supply the demand. Karnataka takes 75 per cent of this chunk. If the farmers in Goa concentrate on serious floriculture, at least half of the market share can be captured and this Rs 25 crore worth market can be created and the amount will remain in the state,” explains Prashant Naik, proprietor, Lily and Lilac – The Flower People, Margao.  

Apart from festivals, weddings, anniversaries or birthdays, flowers are in great demand on special days. “In Goa, Valentine’s day, Teacher’s day and Valankinni feast are the three days where flowers, especially roses are in demand,” states Prashant, who admits selling 25,000 roses on a single day – that of the Valentine’s day!  

A florist for the past 25 years, Prashant is well-versed in the business and knows the nuance of it. He informs that there are many like him in Goa who register mega sales, on special days. Except for the gap of 40 days of lent where Catholic weddings do not happen and the 30 days of the Paush month in the Hindu calendar where marriages do not occur, rest of the year there is consistent demand for the flowers. 

“The peak season starts from October 15 and continues until May. Christmas, New Year and Easter is the busiest time for us,” adds Prashant who is one of the leading florist who take online deliveries to any destination in the coastal state. Witnessing a humble beginning, with retail and wholesale flower deliveries, he has now entered into hotel industry & events. 

There is huge scope for growth in the flower business, both as growers and as sellers. The small Goan shops no longer exist and there is this entire flower market, captured by Bengalis who came as ‘karigars’ (flower designers) and have set up their own shops now. Goa has at least 50 of these spread across its length and breadth. “In Salcete taluka there would be minimum 10 Bengali karigars who are now running their own flower shops. Sadly, when it comes to business, Goans lack behind and let go the business opportunities to others,” laments Prashant, a Goan who entered into flower business in mid 90s. Half of his clientele are the hoteliers and retailers while the rest is the over the counter sales.  

He recalls, “I started with just one employee and a small kiosk in the heart of Margao. Today I have 18 employees, some of them on contract basis, and I supply cut flowers to most hotels in South Goa. I order my flowers mainly from Bengaluru and partly from Kolhapur and Belagavi and there is supply on a daily basis, for 365 days. When other businesses are closed on Sundays or festival occasions, we are the busiest people then. We have to keep our clientele happy by providing fresh flowers every day.”  

Though Goa’s climate is suitable for orchids, gerberas and anthuriums, yet, floriculture has not attracted local farmers. Also, farmers go only for high profile flowers and not local ones like marigold, which has a good demand during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra and Diwali. The farmers also don’t give much importance on growing foliage – golden rod, kamini leaves or asparagus, which offer slow income but over a long period.  

Prashant mentions that his business has witnessed substantial grown in two-and-a-half-decades, barring the past two years when it was static. The reason, he feels, is the money crunch experienced by people post GST and demonetisation. 

The agriculture department has been generous in granting subsidies for the poly houses, especially to grow cut flowers like orchids, and many from South Goa have tried their hands in floriculture but could not take their business to the break-even point. Some of the farmers from Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona have sunk into debts as due to the lack of any support system in marketing or transportation, the flowers they produced did not have an appropriate market. Some of them complained of having invested lot of money into land and infrastructure but due to substandard quality of plants and seeds, there was not ample amount of crop. Orchid is a five year crop and after the first two years, third, fourth and fifth year the harvest is super. However, the plants succumbed and around 25 farmers in Goa suffered losses.  

The agriculture department has to have a practical and planned strategy, so at more farmers turn to floriculture and make it a flourishing business. Sometime ago the Goa State Agricultural Marketing Board had levied certain taxes on flowers procured from outside the state. The florists in Goa had demanded that these taxes should be withdrawn as there is no corresponding service provided to the flower industry in lieu of the taxes so levied. 

If proper study of the requirement of the variety of flowers needed in the state is undertaken, the farmers can grow those flowers that have demand, instead of growing just orchids and gerberas.   

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