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Blooming business in times of a slowdown

Recession and slowdown are two words that Simraan Rang, 23, isn’t losing sleep over. He is more worried about timely delivery of flower seeds grown in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka to his customers in Europe, the US, Oman and Taiwan on time, writes Gurpreet Singh Nibber.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2009 22:23 IST

Recession and slowdown are two words that Simraan Rang, 23, isn’t losing sleep over. He is more worried about timely delivery of flower seeds grown in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka to his customers in Europe, the US, Oman and Taiwan on time.

“In these tough times, many more people in Europe and the US are growing flowers – in their gardens, backyards and balconies – to de-stress themselves. Hence, our business is booming,” said the young partner at Plantman Seeds, one of the largest flower seed exporters in the country.

Over the last three years, export volumes have jumped 100 per cent; Plantman exported 20 tonnes of flower seeds in 2008-09.

“Buyers will reject the entire consignment if they find even the slightest trace of weed,” said Rang. “But, Inshallah, we have not yet faced such a situation.”

Rang spends winters in India, supervising the production of flowers and seeds. During the rest of the year, he runs up thousands of air miles, criss-crossing the world to meet potential customers and to procure orders.

Rang entered the family business three years ago. Previously, his mother Shahina was running it. His father, Alla Rang, a plant scientist at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) provides the technical and scientific guidance.

Shahina Rang started on a small scale 16 years ago, with an order for two kilograms of tomato seeds. The seeds were well received, and Plantman Seeds was born.

Though the recession abroad has had no impact on Plantman’s business, Rang is not taking chances. He is trying to reduce dependence on wholesalers, and plans to enter the retail market abroad.

“We have appointed a dealer in Oman to address the retail market there, and are in the process of appointing such agents in Holland, Poland and the US,” he said. Plantman also sells flowers online.

What’s next on his agenda? In order to ramp up production, Plantman has tied up with individual farmers in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. The company supplies free seeds to the farmers, and buys the flowers they grow at a previously contracted price.

Rang plans to expand his farmers’ network. “Their returns from growing flowers for us are three times higher than if they grow regular crops,” he said.