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How to develop floriculture? 
By Dr Muhammad Qasim, Tanveer Ahmad & Iftikhar Ahmad

UNFORTUNATELY, Pakistan has negligible share in worldwide floriculture trade despite having fertile lands, best irrigation system, and rich resources to venture in this enterprising business which not only generates rural employment but also fetches precious foreign exchange.

Of the total floriculture trade, cut-flowers sales account for 50 per cent and plants 41 per cent; bulb and cut foliage make up rest of nine per cent. Eight countries export 74 per cent of the value of the world’s floriculture crops — the Netherlands, Columbia, Israel, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, the US and Ecuador. More than 50 per cent of the floriculture products come from the Netherlands.

If we compare the resources of Pakistan with the Netherlands, we have an area 20 times more, manpower 9 to 10 times more and better climate, soil and irrigation system. What we are lacking is the modern production technology.

Secondly, planning policies are not strong enough to attract people towards this potential enterprise. Many developing have emerged as successful growers and exporters of flowers in the recent past.

In Pakistan, floriculture is viewed as a lucrative enterprise for poverty alleviation. Some initiatives have also been taken for the promotion of floriculture to enter the global floriculture trade. Policy makers need to draw upon the experience of other countries.

Our production and marketing needs to be streamlined in accordance with their policies that may help in flourishing floriculture industry. Policies should be planned on thorough review of enterprise, market demand, and economic priorities.

The right policies must come from the government while the creativity lies in the hands of private sector. Efficacy of technical assistance for export diversification is linked with the product and market development. National expertise and technical assistance should be provided for improved surveys, feasibility studies and formulation of export strategies. This will strengthen the national capacity to pursue export diversification.

Floriculture industry needs technical assistance in sectors like improvement in planting material, seed production and provision of controlled environment and infrastructure for post harvest care. Improved planting material and seed production can be achieved and enhanced through the research activities.

The government and public sector should sort out the problems of the formers and then focus on the research on them. Through strong extension activities, the farmers can be benefited by the results of the research. Technical assistance is also required for post harvest infrastructure that includes pre-cooling, refrigerated vans for transportation and air-conditioned storage facilities.

Another aspect to be considered is investment. For example, gladiolus cultivation requires almost Rs0.7 million per hectare. This huge investment can not be paid by the ordinary farmer. This problem can be solved by two ways. Firstly, corporate farming should be introduced to induct modern technology. Secondly, the investment problem can be solved by corporate farming.

Our surveys suggest that majority of farmers involved in floriculture trade are uneducated. Educating farmers on production and post harvest technology and specifically on marketing procedures may yield some good results.

In the later stage when huge investments are made and enterprises are established, graduates from the universities will be absorbed in the industry. Corporate farming provides opportunities to absorb graduates in the industry and at the same time may be helpful in the technology transfer.

Coping with the international marketing demands, a clear approach on maintaining international standards should be adopted. Our industry can flourish, if Horticulture Development and Export Board (PHEDB) encourages investments and sets up centres for educating the farmers about the modern trends in floriculture and helps the farmers in marketing their products maintaining the high standards. The policies can be successful only when the awareness through education is imparted to the growers to compete with the farmers of the advanced countries.


Courtesy: The DAWN
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