KATHMANDU, Oct 23: The government has banned the import of flowers and flower garlands for the Tihar festival this year, giving relief to domestic florists, farmers and customers.
In the past, especially during festivals including Tihar, the import of flowers from outside the country would have an impact on the market for domestic flowers. Last year, flowers worth Rs 110 million were imported from neighboring India, the biggest flower supplier to Nepal.
The country is heading on the path to be self-sufficient in flower production. Floriculture has expanded to 44 districts in the country. Flower farming has been done in 178 hectares of land, said the Floriculture Association Nepal (FAN). At least 2.4 million flower garlands worth Rs 140 million are estimated to be used for the festival this year. The surge in the production of flowers with timely rain this year has eliminated the need for the import of flowers, said FAN.
Meanwhile, FAN has urged customers not to use plastic flower garlands during festivals. "Farmers have done floriculture with the aim of selling flower garlands during Tihar. But, the use of plastic flower garlands has affected farmers. So, we have urged consumers not to use plastic flower garlands," said FAN General Secretary Bishwo Mani Pokharel.
It has been 25 years since floriculture started in the country. At present, over 42,000 people are directly and indirectly engaged in the flower business.
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) President Shekhar Golchha said that although the future of floriculture is bright in Nepal, the investment in this sector was not forthcoming as expected due to policy-related problems.
"There is better prospect for flower cultivation and floriculture trade in Nepal due to its geographical diversity. Investment in floriculture will give decent returns. The flowers grown in Nepal can sell in the world under the 'Himalayan flower' brand," Golchha said, adding, however, that big investment has not been coming in this sector. He urged the government to pay attention to policy reforms for attracting investment in this sector.
Former FAN president Kumar Kasaju also echoed Golchha saying that Nepal has greater prospects for flower cultivation and its export.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Dr Hari Bahadur KC shared that investment has not been made in floriculture to the expected level as the government's investment is concentrated in food grains.
Director of the Department of Plant Resources, Dr Radha Kafle, said that chrysanthemum which can be grown all the year round has been growing in Nepal. She added that the Department has been partnering with FAN for promoting its cultivation.
FAN President Meen Bahadur Tamang called on the government to re-write the floriculture promotion policy to make it timely. According to him, the floriculture promotion policy has not come into implementation even at present.
He said the production of flowers is not enough to meet the growing demand in Nepal and flowers have to be imported at times due to the lack of technology to grow plants through tissue culture and hybrid seeds in the country.