Marigold prices plunge 33pc on glut in supply

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 3, 2016-

Prices of marigold were down 33 percent during the Tihar festival due to a glut in supply. These flowers are sold extensively during the five-day festival when they are strung into garlands to decorate houses. 

A jump in shipments triggered severe competition among flower sellers, causing prices to dive, traders said. 

A one-metre long marigold garland cost around Rs40 during the festival which concluded on Tuesday, according to the Floriculture Association of Nepal (Fan). Last year, similar garlands cost around Rs60 apiece.

“The price of a marigold garland was expected to reach Rs60-100 this year,” said Fan President Kumar Kasaju Shrestha. “Farmers had high hopes of making a lot of money this season, but their hopes were dashed when prices plunged due to a spurt in supplies.”

Demand for flowers, marigold and chrysanthemum in particular, soars during Tihar. Garlands made of these flowers are also used during Laxmi Puja, the day when the Goddess of Wealth is worshipped; and Bhai Tika, the last day of the festival when brothers and sisters receive blessings from each other.

Demand for flowers surged around 37 percent to 1.1 million units this festive season against 800,000 units during last year’s Tihar. Marigolds made up 80 percent of the flowers sold during this season. Chrysanthemums are also very popular. 

As demand for flowers is increasing, more and more people have started growing them commercially, leading to a sharp rise in supply.

According to Fan, supplies of marigold went up this Tihar due to the spread of commercial farming and increased engagement of small farmers in its production. “This time, the supply from individual production was comparatively higher than expected,” Shrestha said. 

Despite the increase in domestic output, around 200,000 marigold garlands were imported from India this Tihar. However, demand for Indian marigolds was low this year because of their higher prices and low quality.

“Indian flowers cost almost double the price of Nepali products,” Shrestha said. “They were also of low quality.” Nepali marigolds, according to Shrestha, are grown using improved seed varieties. “Also, a fungal disease called septoria did not hit many marigold farms this year, leading to higher production,” Shrestha said. “If this continues, we will soon be self-reliant in flowers.”

Fan has been working with the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (Narc) to improve the quality of domestically produced flowers with the aim of replacing imported flowers completely. 

The association said they had successfully conducted test production of improved flowers in Kavrepalanchok in collaboration with Narc, and that they would be available in the domestic market by next year.

There are 700 nurseries engaged in growing flowers commercially. Among them, 276 are based in the Kathmandu Valley. Makwanpur, Dhading, Kavrepalanchok, Surkhet, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi are other large producers of flowers in the country. Similarly, other places like Kaski district have also been emerging as major producers of flowers. 

Published: 03-11-2016 08:06

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