It set out to decorate the world with its ornamental flowers, but India could end up with bouquets made from China if it does not address productivity and quality woes faced by its floriculture industry, say experts.
While imports are minuscule - just Rs 15.13 crore during April-September 2006 - and are restricted to orchids from Thailand, the country faces the possibility of being flooded with floriculture products from China once the neighbour strengthens its transport infrastructure.
"If the Chinese can reduce the freight cost, they can take a good share of the Indian market as their cost of flowers is competitive," said SP Rungta of leading flower retail chain Ferns and Petals.
India's floriculture market is estimated to be worth Rs 800-1,000 crore and imports from China is limited to Lilium.
New Delhi has set an export target of Rs 1,000 crore by 2010 and the export figures stood at Rs 163.68 crore during April-September this year against Rs 301.44 crore in entire 2005-06. The government aims to export Rs 370.98 crore worth of floriculture products this fiscal.
"In future, India can become a net importer of flowers if government does not address productivity and quality, which are going down," Rungta warned.
Though there are no major imports from China due to high import duty (66 per cent) and freight cost, floriculture expert MB Naqvi said, "China has a clear road map for the growth of floriculture and it may exports its flowers in large quantity to India once it completes setting up the transport infrastructure."