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local exotic flowers: As local exotic flowers bloom, imports wilt

Wedding planner Mukta Kapoor recently had a client request an arrangement of locally grown nargis flowers (daffodils). And she’s not the only one. There’s a growing trend of Indians opting for domestic produce, as opposed to imported blooms. India’s increasing cultivation of exotic flowers such as orchids, carnations and tulips is meeting the rising demand. Regulations are also keeping overseas supplies in check.

Among the much-in-demand blossoms, India’s production of chrysanthemums rose 136% from FY16 to 470.15 tonnes in FY22, while that of orchids was up 210% over the same period. On the other hand, India’s imports of fresh and dried flowers, flower buds, bulbs and tubers almost halved during FY15 to FY23.

Meanwhile, the fall in flower shipments from India seems to indicate that production is increasingly going towards meeting local demand, especially at weddings. India’s flower exports more than halved to $22.92 million in FY23, from $49.43 million in FY15. “Till some time ago, people had a fetish for foreign flowers, especially tulips,” said Kapoor, who is director of New Delhi-based Yuna Weddings & Events. “But now, they prefer fresh flowers grown locally, which are equally pretty.”

Shorter shelf life for imported flowers
Imports of cut flowers and flower buds of the kind suitable for bouquets or ornamental purposes attract a 60% duty. Additionally, “there is an import restriction in force, wherein all cut flower shipments are to be brought in only through Chennai customs port,” said Anil Sharma, chief operating officer, retail and franchising, Ferns N Petals.Explaining how four to five days of shelf life are compromised in the case of imported flowers, he said, “There is a condition of three days’ mandatory quarantine of the shipment.” Inland air freight makes it even more costly, Sharma said.On the other hand, local blossoms are delivered fresh and, in large measure, match the quality of imports. “Flowers such as orchids and tulips are now grown domestically. Also, the quality and size are similar to the imported ones,” said an official.

Yuna’s Kapoor said lotuses are also much sought after at Indian weddings.

Price points are an added benefit. Among locally grown flowers, nargis costs Rs 250-500 a bunch, depending on the quality. Tulips can cost Rs 1,500 for 10 pieces. A tulip stick at the Ghazipur flower market costs Rs 100. The price also differs from season to season.

Compared to this, imported blooms including hydrangeas, daffodils and tulips can cost anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 per bouquet.

Thailand, the Netherlands, Colombia and Kenya are the top sources of imports for India.


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