Delhiites love flowers more than the denizens of any other city in Asia. The city has a great flower culture and tradition, thanks to its multicultural social life. Not every Delhiite may be an Alan Titchmarsh, but they seem to appreciate the beauty and versatility of flowers better than anyone else. No wonder then Delhi is the biggest market in Asia in terms of flower consumption. And in terms of the volume of flower trade too, the city is number two (though some experts contend it is first) after Shanghai, according to those associated with flower trade.
“Delhi has a great flower culture. It has 7,000 retail flower outlets, while Mumbai has around 4000 flower shops. The NCR’s total retail flower business is around 1000 crores annually,” says Jafar Naqvi, editor, Floriculture Today and President, Indian Flowers and Ornamental Plants Welfare association.
Be it Friendship Day, Father’s day, or Happy New Year, Delhiites like to say and celebrate it with lots of flowers. “We have outlets in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore but Delhi tops in terms of sales. The flower consumption in Delhi is growing at a whopping forty per cent per year,” says Prakash Ranguta, General Manager with the Ferns ‘N’ Petals” chain of flower stores. On an average, flowers worth 50 lakh rupees are sold in Delhi every day. And on Valentine’s Day, the sale of flowers in the city is a whopping 1.5 to 2 crore, much higher than any city in Asia. So, what are Delhiites’ favorite flowers? Roses top the list, followed by gladiolus, carnation and lilies.
Delhi is also the hub of the country’s flower trade. In fact, the flower market in Connaught Place in front of Hanuman Mandir is arguably the largest flower market in Asia. This market provides bulk of flowers for all high-profile marriages in the country. It also provided flowers for the recent much- hyped Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai wedding. “Delhi is the nerve- centre of India’s flower trade where flowers arrive from all parts of the country and abroad. But most of the flower trade here remains unorganised and there is no legal and proper place for flower trading. The volume of flower trade can easily be doubled if we have a proper market and infrastructure. We should take a cue from Holland where there are huge air-conditioned auction houses”, says Ajay Barua, Vice President, Delhi Cut Flower Grower and Suppliers Association.
“The government has failed to provide us a proper mandi where we can do business during regular business hours. Presently we can do business from 4 am to 9 am at the Connaught Place market, ” rues Brij Mohan Khanagwal , who claims to have founded the Connaught Place flower market in 1995.
Many experts believe the country’s flower trade has immense potential, but unfortunately it is not being realised because of lack of proper infrastructure, disorganised nature of the trade, and the fact that most of floriculture ventures are on wrong locations.
“What we need is the right infrastructure and skilled people in the floriculture industry. We have the potential to do 1 billion worth flower trade; besides, the floriculture industry can create at least a million jobs,” says Naqvi.