‘Pakistan can enhance floral export to world’s largest importers of fresh flowers’

‘Pakistan can enhance floral export to world’s largest importers of fresh flowers’

KARACHI: Pakistan is a growing market for floral products, particularly of cut flowers and there is a huge demand for cut flowers, especially roses and tulips. Market players have the potential to export cut flowers, but they need infrastructural support from the government. Exporting to the world's largest importers of fresh flowers like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Russia can be enhanced manifold, flower planters and growers said.

The largest exporters of cut flowers are The Netherlands, Colombia and Kenya and Pakistan can be part of this list with the government's backing, suggested growers.

The government should provide latest equipment on lease and easy credit to the growers in order to help enhance exports.

Pakistan's exports remained under Rs 180 million in the successive last two years each while Indian exports stood at Rs 1,900 million a year. World exports stand more than $136 billion annually.

Members of Pakistan National Rose Society, Horticulture Society of Pakistan and exporters said marketing of cut flowers is un-organized. In most cities, with large market potential, flowers are brought to wholesales markets, which mostly operate in open yards.

Potted plants and cut flowers have an almost 85 percent share of the world trade in ornamental plant products. It is expected that per capita consumption and production will increase worldwide.

In almost every country in the world there is some florist industry but in many countries like Pakistan the available figures are not quite accurate.

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

The challenges which the industry faces are that some popular flower types are over-supplied in the international market, lack of quality and quantity assurance of products for maintaining market share in the export business.

National coordination should be increased to maximise effective promotion in export markets and address the issue of non-availability of skilled labour during harvesting.

Export constraints facing the industry are less encouragement in the 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 unorganised domestic market.

Eastern European economies are still growing. As a result, demand for flowers in these markets is increasing, though the markets are still relatively small in size. In Eastern Europe flowers are mostly bought as a present in the specialised market channel (e.g. Mother's Day, Valentine's Day). The best way to enter the Eastern European markets is through Dutch traders that have experience in supplying florists in these countries.

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.

Pattoki is the major production and marketing centre in the country with the potential for planting of cut flowers on a commercial scale on favourable soil and climatic conditions.

The Northern areas have very rich flora and germplasm, which still is not fully exposed. The available natural resources can be exploited commercially.

In recent years, flower production has increased in Sheikhupura, Kasur, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Chunian and Okara.

Agricultural sector directly adds 24 to its gross domestic products, provides 48 percent employment and 60 percent export. Horticulture as a sub-sector participates 12 percent in the agriculture sector. Horticulture occupies 7 percent of arable land of Pakistan, while floriculture occupies only 0.9 percent.