Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Pune’s Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) has set the ball rolling to establish a state-of-the-art flower auction centre in the city, an initiative which is the first of its kind by any APMC in the country.
Modelled on the lines of FloraHolland in Aalsmeer — the largest trading centre for plants and flowers in the world — the centre is slated to run flower auctions. So one could soon see digital auction clocks displaying information on the products and helping exporters or traders make their purchases.
The ceremony of the ambitious project was attended by Maharashtra cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil on Friday.
With a turnover of approximately Rs 100 crore, the flower market in Pune at present operates from the Gultekdi Market Yard, a local facility. Absence of cold storage has been one of the major issues plaguing the market, which has hampered further growth. Talegaon, Satara and other regions near Pune over the years have seen significant growth in floriculture activities. Last year, floriculture exports had amounted to Rs 460.75 crore.
The minister said that the Rs 53-crore ambitious project has been in the offing for the past five to six years, but it picked up pace recently.
The centre will have an auction house, grading and packing facilities. In addition, the five-storey building will also have 273 retail shops, exhibition centres, an auditorium, special facilities for exporters and cold stores where farmers can store flowers till they want to bring them into the market, Dilip Khaire, vice-president of the APMC, said.
Work on the mall is expected to begin soon and the mall will be completed in a time- bound frame, the minister said.
Since this is an infrastructure project, it will get a 30% subsidy from the Centre. Pune’s flower market is currently housed in a godown, where 170 traders operate and there is a waiting list of another 170 traders. There are plans to establish another 100 stalls within the mall soon.
Around 2.55 lakh hectares in the country is currently under flower cultivation resulting in a productivity of some 17.54 lakh tonne. Maharashtra has some 23,000 hectares under floriculture and production of loose flowers is around 1.22 lakh tonne and 44,000 tonne of cut flowers annually. The products include roses, gerberas, carnations, anthuriums, gladioli, jasmine and marigold among others.
India exported flowers worth Rs 460 crore in 2014-15. Pune region has about 45 polyhouses set up by private companies which are focussed primarily on the export market.