Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry, comprising the floral industry. The development of plant breeding of new varieties is a major occupation of floriculturists.
Floriculture crops include bedding plants, flowering plants, foliage plants or houseplants, cut cultivated greens, and cut flowers. As distinguished from nursery crops, floriculture crops are generally herbaceous. Bedding and garden plants include young flowering plants (annuals and perennials) and vegetable plants.
Flowers are mainly for export. This business is growing worldwide at around 6-10 per cent per annum. In 2007, the size of the industry was $80 billion.
Despite a long tradition of Agriculture and Floriculture, India’s share in the international market for these flowers is negligible. During the last ten years, taking advantage of the incentives offered by the Government, several Floriculture units were established in India for producing and exporting flowers to the developed countries. Most of them were located near Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi and obtained the technical know-how from Dutch and Israeli Consultants.
Karnataka is the leader in floriculture, accounting for 75% of India’s total flower production. The state has the highest area under modern cut flowers and 40 flower growing and exporting units. The country’s first and only flower auction centre is located in Karnataka.
In Karnataka, there are 18,000 hectares under floriculture cultivation. Karnataka is into floriculture for over 300 years. The Tigala community near Devanahalli and Chickaballapur are extremely good at growing flowers.
In 2003, The International Flower Auction Bangalore (IFAB), the operating company controlled by growers, took over the operations of the flower auction centre run by the State-owned Karnataka Agro Industries Corporation (KAIC).
An agreement to this effect was signed between the representatives of the South India Floriculture Association (SIFA) and the Managing Director of KAIC, in the presence of the Development Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Mr Vijay Gore, who is also the chairman of IFAB. SIFA has a 51 per cent stake in IFAB, while the small growers hold 16 per cent.
Karuturi Networks, a little-known Bangalore company, is close to acquiring the Netherlands-based Sher, the world’s largest producer and supplier of roses, for about $50 million (Rs 220 crore) to emerge as the global leader in roses. Sher’s greenhouses in the Netherlands, Kenya and Ethiopia produce 600 million roses annually.
Universities and institutes which cater to Floriculture
- University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore
- Indian Institute of Horticultural Research , Bangalore
- AP Agricultural University
- Haryana Agricultural University
- Punjab Agricultural University
- College of Agriculture, Maharashtra
The high-value crops grown in greenhouses are cultivated under controlled conditions protected from pests, diseases, wind and humidity. Popular flowers used in modern floriculture that are in demand are roses, anthurium, gerbera, gladioli, orchids, carnations and birds of paradise grown in polyhouses.
Flowers are also used for extracts for perfumes and natural dyes. Dry flowers are used for decoration. One can earn Rs 100,000 per hectare per year from dry flowers. Nursery business – growing plants in pots and in the production of seeds are also popular.
Floriculture offers careers in production, marketing, export and research. Jobs range from cultivation or growing flowers to seed production, dry seed production, seed production, marketing, and decoration. National Horticulture Board helps one to establish a flori business. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) helps entrepreneurs with cold storage facilities and freight subsidies.