Natural flower (cut & loose) vs artificial flower business in Imphal

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In Manipur , different religious and social functions are performed throughout the year both in the Hills and Valley. In such functions, the uses of flowers (cut and loose) have become a mandatory. As a result, the business of natural flower (cut & loose) in the markets of Imphal is gaining ground during the last one decade or so. On the other hand, artificial flowers (made in China) in the form of bouquets, pots, cut, loose, etc. are also having good business in the markets of Imphal. Through this article, the writer appealed to the educated unemployed youths of the state to take up floriculture (cut and loose) as entrepreneurship for sustainable economic development.

Current status of traditional flower cultivation
The present area under open field cultivation for loose flowers covers 86 ha. (including aquatic cultivation of lotus and water lily). The species grown in open conditions are varieties of Jasmine, Gardenia, Pagoda, Aster, Lotus, Water lily, Champaca, Marigold, Hedychium, Oleander, Gladiolus, Dahlia, ground orchids, terrestrial orchids, Rhododendron, Begonia, Geranium, Ixora, Japanese honey suckle, varieties of lilies, Hydrangea, Tuberose, China rose, garden roses, Kaempheria, Chrysanthemum, Dianthus, Magnolia, Cocks comb, Bougainvillea, Impatiens, Sunflower, etc. Whereas the field cultivation of cut flowers covers 30.8 ha. Among the cut flowers – Dendrobium ranks number one in production followed by hybrid rose, Antherium, Gerbera, Tuberose, mainly from the units promoted by the Department of
Horticulture & Soil conservation, Manipur. The cut flower (Rose, Gerbera, Antherium, Dendrobium) are sold in the markets of Imphal by the Vendors.

Marketing opportunity of natural flowers
Protected cultivation of cut flower production covers hardly 10 ha with species grown viz., Antherium, Hybrid Rose, Oriental lilium, Carnation, Gerbera, Tuberose, Dendrobium, Astromeria, Leather leaf and other bulbous flowers. During 2011-12, the production of cut flower in the Manipur state has raised 7.10 lakh in numbers from 6.11 lakh and 6.51 lakh in the number during 208-09 and 2009-10 respectively (Department of Horticulture & Soil conservation, Manipur).

Marketing of cut flowers in Imphal markets is very unorganized at present. A few large flower merchants generally buy most of the produce and distribute them to local retail outlets. The retail vendors sales in the open road sides with different flowers spread over on the floor.

The business of loose flower in Imphal city and other markets in the State is entering with quick and profitable return which evolves chain of employment. The peak period for demand persist during the period August to November. The loose flower production is about 35.5 MT/year against the actual domestic requirement of about 80-90 MT/year.

Natural flower bouquets
The green foliage that is either cultivated or naturally available in Manipur can be used as fillers in the bouquet decoration. A mixture of foliage, mostly green cut flowers always make a good presentable bouquet. Such vast scope with diverse climatic condition as prevalent in the state is quite suitable for foliage and has been established with performances of leather leave (foliage) while cultivation under protected structures. The production of leather leave fern (green foliage) apart from Aparagus and other local species can be one of the successful flori-business item of Manipur.

Artificial flower
The making of artificial flower is believed to have been started by the Chinese who mastered the skills of working as well as creating elaborate floral replicas but they (the Chinese) were not responsible for turning silkflower making into a business (china-bauxite.com). Artificial flower are made in a wide variety of materials depending on the materials in which the manufacturer is reacting. The polyester has become the fabric of choice by flower makers and purchasers because of lower cost, ability of the fabric to accept dyes, glues and durability. Plastic is also the materials used most often for the stems, berries and other parts of the flowers for the market that includes picks – small clusters of artificial flowers on short plastic wire stems that can be inserted into forms to make quick inexpensive floral decoration and bulk sales of longer stems of flowers that are less expensive. Artificial flowers are made of paper, cotton, parchment, latex, rubber, sateen (for large, bold coloured flowers and arrangements) and dried materials including flowers and plant parts, berries, features and fruits (Made how vol 5. Artificial flower).

Discussion
The origin of the innovative idea is usually practical experience within one’s own business followed at some distance by colleagues, etc. For green house horticulture business colleagues are the main origin.

Innovations are classified into four types – viz, (i) product (17%), (ii) process (71%), (iii) market (9%) and (iv) organizational innovations (3%). In green house ornamental plant cultivation score very high (and the highest) for process innovations. Arable farming and mixed business also have a relatively large share in product innovations and, to a lesser extent, market innovations (Deumick et al, 2008).

The most important reasons for innovations are obtaining a higher income, improving quality, cost saving, rationalization of labour and legislation and regulations. The factor of cost reduction (energy) is mainly present in green house horticulture (ornamental plant cultivation) (Deumick et al, 2008).

The production technology flowers under protected environment of green house needs to be standardized. There is hardly any post-harvest management of flowers for the domestic market, has increased the appreciation of quality produce and its demand for good quality flowers is increasing.

The availability of natural resources like favourable climatic conditions permit production and availability of a large variety of flower crops in Manipur round the year. Being a new concept in the agri-business, it tooks some time for scientific commercial flower production to take roots, but with the appreciation of its potential as an economically viable diversification option, its growth is slowly stabilizing. From the government side also, it has to recognize floriculture as an important segment for development of initiatives.

The future of artificial flower is like to imitate its long past. People like to be surrounded by beautiful representation from nature, but they also want the convenience of low-maintenance, everlasting flowers.

Conclusion and recommendation
The average price of different loose flowers (marigold, jasmine, etc) could be increased depending upon the transportation cost. The value of cut flower export to other cities of India has to be increased with more production units coming into operation. Moreover, the potential for cut flowers production development depends upon the availability of natural resources like favourable climate.

It is also recommended for less purchase of artificial flowers at the local level for promotion of locally available dry cut flowers.

[The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, and can be contacted at [email protected]]

Source: The Sangai Express

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