Flower export from Kolkata halted for a week

April 13th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, April 13 (IANS) Flower exports from Kolkata were put on hold for a week Sunday due to heavy losses incurred in a fire in the 125-year-old flower market near Howrah Bridge. “No flower consignments will be flown out of Kolkata for a week. The flower market at Jagannath Ghat, with most stalls gutted in the fire, is not in a position to supply flowers outside the city,” State Minister of Food Processing and Horticulture Sailen Sarkar told IANS.

Over 250 shops were destroyed in the fire, caused by gas cylinder, that devastated the Jagannath Ghat market, also known as Mullik Ghat, Friday night. The fire led to losses running into millions.

There is a heavy demand for Bengal’s tuberoses, goldenrods, chrysanthemums and gerberas at the world’s big flower auction markets in Amsterdam, Auckland and Dubai.

“Everyday about one tonne of flowers are flown out of the city in cargo planes. The Jagannath Ghat market supplies 80 percent of the flowers while the rest are taken from nurseries and farmers,” Sudhangshu Sil, chairman of the Jagannath Ghat Phoolbazar Parichalan Samiti, said.

“We are not short of flower supply. But big consignments require proper processing and packaging before sending them to the airport and all our equipments have turned to ashes,” he said.

After the fire, the exporters had to either cancel their bookings or arrange for alternative supply from other states.

Flower exporter Rishi Manchandani said: “I have to send a consignment of 250 kg tuberoses to Dubai. I thought I would pick up the flowers from Jagannath Ghat. Now I will have to pay extra money to get flowers from Bangalore.”

Amin Khan, manager (eastern India) of Singapore Airlines cargo, said: “A flower agent Sunday cancelled a 250 kg flower consignment for Amsterdam. He was supposed to get the supply from the Jagannath Ghat market but could not arrange for an alternative.”

Khan said cancellation of a 250 kg consignment caused a loss of around Rs.70,000 to the carrier.

The Jagannath Ghat market is the largest wholesale flower market in eastern India and exports flowers to Middle East and Europe. The net sales every day amount to worth about Rs.2 million. West Bengal is India’s third largest flower producer after Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

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