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Issues, challenges and opportunities in floriculture 
By Adnan Younis

THE flower industry comprises cultivation and trade of cut flowers, cut foliage, potted plants and bedding plants. The main representatives of cut flowers are: the rose, chrysanthemum, gladiolus, carnation and lilies.

Potted plants and cut flowers have an almost 80 per cent share of the world trade in ornamental plant products. In the flower industry, significant changes are occurring in competitive relationships worldwide.

A number of traditional markets are displaying signs of saturation and at the same time new markets are developing in some parts of the world. It is expected that per capita consumption and production will go up worldwide. There is a dilemma in obtaining clear insight into the prospects for the floriculture industry. In almost every country in the world there is some florist industry but in many countries the available figures are not accurate.

Pakistan is a country of small farming households where floriculture is one of the best options for enhancing the income of under privileged. Introduction of floriculture crops could be an important intervention in this regard where a farmer can earn much more by exploiting the available natural resources.

We have favourable climate and cheap labour for growing these crops, whereas they need much less land and water for production. These crops also give premium prices almost round the year and there is no need to wait for a long time as in the case of other routine crops. Net profit against the investment is much higher from these compared with other conventional crops. The products are in high demand all over the world.

Floriculture in the country is in embryonic stage. There are lack of resources and skilled persons to develop the industry up to international standards. It is the need of the time to produce skilled personals and explore new means to ensure survival of our farmers and explore marketing to save our economy as well as increases export.

The value added products from non-conventional floricultural crops like essential oil of rose, tube rose, jasmine etc., and plants extracts used in medicines and pharmaceutical industry are unique and likely to face less competition in international market after the post WTO scenario and thus have the potential for export and import substitution.

The Northern Areas have very rich flora and germplasm which still is not exposed. The available natural resources can be exploited commercially. Marketing of cut flowers is unorganized. In most cities, with large market potential, flowers are brought to wholesales markets, which mostly operate in open yards.

A few flower merchants generally buy most of the produce and distribute them to local retail outlets after significant mark-up. The retail florist shops usually operate on roadsides with little or no protection for flowers. It is the need of time that the government should invest in setting up auction centres, as well as organize floral shops with better storage facilities to prolong vase life of cut flowers.

The production issues which hampers growth of this industry are lack of required seed, flowers, germplasm and tissue culture facilities; lack of technological assistance; shortage of capital investment; shortage of trained manpower; poor post-harvest management; and lack of pest and disease control.

The marketing issue are the limited airfreight space; lack of proper cold chain; lack of regional and international cooperation; patenting, royalties, the WTO laws; and inadequate transport facilities.

The opportunities existing in this business are proper development of high quality flowers and bulbs for domestic and overseas markets; marketing of essential oils and other products like rose hip syrup, jam, jellies, cosmetics, perfumes and medicines; development opportunities for native flora for domestic and export markets both; identification of market niches that can be supplied taking advantage of the climate; widening of the networking ability of industry and advantage of working with key grower groups to increase market access; and an increase in industry’s access to skill-based training schemes.

The challenges which the industry faces are that some popular flower types are over-supplied in international market; lack of quality and quantity assurance of products for maintaining market share in export business; national coordination should be increased to maximize effective promotion in export markets; and the non-availability of skilled labour during harvesting.

Export constraints facing the industry are less encouragement in export of floricultural product with low performance attributed to constraints like the non-availability of air space in major airlines, since most of the airline operators prefer heavy consignments; insufficient number of flights during peak seasons; fear of exporters in regard to infrastructural problems such as bad interior roads, inadequate refrigerated transport and storage facilities; lack of professional backup of delivery and supporting companies, which resort into high cost of technology; and tedious phyto-sanitary certification and an unorganized domestic market.

The government should reduce import duty on planting material and equipment; bring down airfreight to a reasonable level; provide sufficient cargo space in airlines; establish model nurseries for supplying genuine planting material; establish cooperative florist organizations at regional level; set up training centres for diploma course; provide cold chain from farm to destination; and should adhere phyto-sanitary conditions and the WTO laws.

Courtesy: The DAWN
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