Tough Love: Rose exports hit by pandemic, higher freight

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According to Sharma, exports of roses during January-November 2020 fetched about Rs 30.79 crore, nearly 40% lower than in the corresponding period of 2019.

In the run-up to the Valentine’s Day celebrations, exports of roses to the UK, Europe and Australia have been hit by the pandemic and are likely to see a drop of 50%.

Last year, around 10 million rose stems were exported, Praveen Sharma, president, Indian Society of Floriculture Professionals (ISFP), said. The Valentine season typically accounts for 20-30% of the annual revenues. Indian roses sell at 18-50 euro cents per stem with the lengths varying from 40-70 cm. Roses sold directly to florists command a premium while the flowers sold in supermarkets are mass products, Sharma pointed out.

The Pune region alone exports around 5 million stems but may export only 2-3 million stems this season. Freight costs for flowers have more than doubled since the outbreak of Covid-19; shipping costs to European destinations from major producing regions such as Bengaluru and Pune have now reached Rs 200-225 a kg from Rs 70-80 per kg in the pre-Covid period.

UK accounts for 35% of Indian exports followed by Japan (19%) and Australia (18%). Sharma said there could be some solace from West Asian markets, Malaysia and Singapore.

According to Sharma, exports of roses during January-November 2020 fetched about Rs 30.79 crore, nearly 40% lower than in the corresponding period of 2019.

Despite a 40% reduction in production, members of flower growers’ associations said the roses would be available for the home market, though the flowers would be dearer.

The pandemic, together with Cyclone Nisarga, has hurt flower growers badly damaging their greenhouse structures. Some businesses have even shut down. “Against exports of `50 crore in 2019, the revenues in 2020 were only `30 crore in 2020,” the association said.

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