Fungal infection, high freight cut rose exports

The drop in production, along with deterioration in quality of cut flowers due to the fungal infection has eventually hit exports.
A rose farm in Hosur
A rose farm in Hosur

COIMBATORE: Production of rose from Hosur, a hub for premium quality of roses in Tamil Nadu, has dropped drastically like never before due to heavy spread of downy mildew infection, continuous rains and un-favourable climatic conditions.

“Production of cut flowers has nosedived by up to 50 per cent. Though it is a common phenomenon for the fungal infection to take a toll on rose production, the impact has been more this season as compared to the previous years,” said Bala Siva Prasad, president of Hosur Small Farmers Association and member of Flower Council of India.

The drop in production, along with deterioration in quality of cut flowers due to the fungal infection has eventually hit exports. Exports, which used to be around 40 lakh to 50 lakh stems on an average every year, have shrunk to a woeful 15 lakh to 20 lakh stems this season.

Such a drastic dip in exports is also attributed to a steep rise in freight charges. “It has been a double whammy for farmers as besides the increase in freight charges by 60 to 100 per cent, the input cost for flower production has also increased by 150 per cent due to high wage of labour and soaring fertilizer cost. This is the first time that I have not exported roses,” he lamented.

However, the domestic market has been fetching a reasonable price ranging between Rs 14 to 20 for flowers as against 20 to 25 in the international market. Unusually, the demand for exports remained low during Christmas and New Year too this year, say farmers.

In addition to these issues, the gulf countries, a major importer of exotic flowers during this season, have switched over their preference for roses produced in African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia for their better quality and cheaper pricing. They enjoy a greater advantage of cheap labour and low freight charges, the farmers added.

However, a senior official of the horticulture department completely disputed the claim of farmers that production of cut flowers has been hit drastically due to downy mildew infection.

“This fungal infection prevails every year and it hasn’t shown any abnormal manifestation for this season alone. It can be controlled using fertilizers,” said the official. Several thousands of farmers produce multiple varieties of roses in around 2,500 acres of land in and around Hosur.

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