Prospects of Cut flower Business in Azad Kashmir

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Abdul Hafeez (Assistant Plant Pathologist)

The world trade of cut flowers runs in billions of dollars and Netherlands serves as the center of cut flower trade. Millions of flowers are sold through the auctions in Netherlands. At present cut flower production is a dynamic, global, fast growing industry, which has achieved significant growth rate during the past few decades. In the 1950s, the global cut flower trade was less than 3 billion US dollars and by 1992, it had grown to 100 billion US dollars. In recent years, the flower industry is growing six percent annually and global volume of cut flower trade in 2003 was US$101.84 billion.

The cut flowers importing countries are Australia, Denmark, Dubai, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria, Turkey, U.S.A. and United Kingdom and major suppliers of fresh cut flowers are Kenya, Columbia, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Israel and India. Export of fresh cut flowers from Pakistan has been nominal except some sample exports. Pakistan started cut flowers export in 1996-97 for the first time and exported 87734 kg of cut flowers worth of 3.5l million rupees.

Recently, it has been reported that Pakistan is earning 35 million rupees from cut flower export. Previous year cut flowers of worth Rs. 08 million were sale out from Rawalakot district of AJK. By observing this rapid growth in cut flower export, this business can become Pakistan’s second largest export sector after textile if government of Pakistan encourages the cut flower growers by facilitating them to provide better technology in year-round production, refrigerated transportation and exploring more foreign markets.

Agriculture in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) operates at subsistence level. Due to small land holdings and other geographic and socioeconomic constraints this sector did not gain commercial level. Traditional cropping system and low productivity and hence low return make agriculture as 3rd or fourth priority of the area. Azad Jammu and Kashmir state has diversified climatic conditions and offer ample opportunities for the production of horticultural crops, which bring additional income.

Flower production is a short-term agricultural activity through which farmer can get higher income return within a span of 90 – 120 days. Similarly Gladiolus bulbs (seed) production and other flower production with all other activities can bring very high-income returns as compared to traditional cereals and vegetable cultivation. This project is proposed with a view to diversifying the cropping pattern and introduction of the cultivation of cut flower. Cut flowers growth is not a new phenomenon in floricultural sector of Pakistan; however it is an infant industry as far as its growth is concerned. The resource rich local soil provides ideal agronomic conditions for the production of cut flowers. Despite lack of knowledge on modern floricultural production techniques, difficulty in obtaining the latest varieties and the lack of infrastructure, the industry is continuously attracting new entrants.

This project is being prepared and is intended to provide opportunity for producers/investors in the floricultural sector to develop cut flowers farm of gladiolus, carnation, tube rose and roses etc.; for supply in local, Islamabad, Lahore, and its surrounding markets and even for export. Growing cut flowers is a very profitable business if done properly on commercial basis. Demand for cut flowers, is growing tremendously as more and more people are becoming aware of the beauty of flowers as decorative items. Weddings, birthday parties, seminars, and other such social gathering events are incomplete without floral decorations. Besides earning money one also helps keep the environment clean and beautiful. AJK, especially northern districts has the environmental advantage for producing all type of cut flowers, rich in organic matters, having neutral pH, suitable range of temperature and is well-drained. When cut flower supply reduces in extreme summer from tropical areas of Pakistan, its supply started from Northern Highlands including AJK.

In Pakistan cut flowers are grown on an area of about 17,000 acres annually with about 50 acres in AJK. As per recommendations of Pakistan Horticultural Board, AJK has been included in the Northern Highlands suitable for all range of cut flower growing. It is expected that the farm can be completed in 4 months and the production of commercial cutflower can begin in the next 10 month. Flower production and marketing also create employment directly as well as indirectly. Cut flower business is a reasonably sound and paying if conducted in a proper way and on a proper scale. Demand for cut flowers is growing tremendously as more and more people are becoming aware of the beauty of flowers as decorative items. Weddings, birthday parties, seminars, and other such social gathering events are incomplete without floral decorations.

A project that envisages one flower shop in Islamabad or Lahore backed with two farms, one in the subtropical areas of Pakistan and other in Northern Highland including AJK, seems unreasonable as far as capital investment is concerned, and unmanageable as far as geographic locations are concerned. But when we check the concept on business level, not only the project becomes viable, but also the financial returns make it highly attractive. Unfulfilled and increasing demand, easy management, easy availability of leased land, year round demand and high profit margins are some of the factors that convince an investor to come into this business.

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