Roses all set for despatch at a farm at Bagalur in Hosur. | Photo Credit: This Valentine’s season is all that rosy for the rose growers in Hosur, whose roses had for long lit up Valentine’s Day on February 14 across various countries. Australia’s fumigation norms and the Chinese New Year on February 16 have hit the export market this time. Quarantine norms Australia’s new quarantine norms for cut flowers make fumigation mandatory. Though these come into force only on March 1, consignments will be allowed until then only on certification that the exports are treated at any point in the supply chain. Chinese New Year Also, the biggest markets for Hosur roses — Singapore and Malaysia — will be shut for vacation in view of the Chinese New Year. “It is like Pongal, where the Chinese population leave town. The demand is for potted flowers as per Chinese tradition on New year’s Day,” says Bala Siva Prasad, president, Hosur Small Farmers Association. This season, Mr. Siva Prasad has seen a 50 % drop in exports personally, while the overall drop is 30-32% from Hosur. His exports to Malaysia dropped from 2 lakh stems normally to 30,000 stems this year, he says. The total exports from Hosur is estimated at 25 lakh to 30 lakh flowers, says Mr. Siva Prasad. Last year, it was 35 lakh to 45 lakh flowers, and it was 50 lakh to 55 lakh flowers in the years before. Besides South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand are markets for Hosur roses. Citing the case of a major exporter, Mr. Siva Prasad says the annual export of over 10 lakh flowers to Australia at ₹ 35 a stem was shelved this year due to the fumigation certification requirement. Once fumigated, the flowers won’t last till they reach Australia, he says. However, one exporter has seen a rise in exports. M. Sridhar Chowdary, managing director of Vinayaka Agrictech, says his firm has seen an increase of exports by 2 lakh flowers to West Asia. But, he does acknowledge the threat posed by the fumigation norms. “Fumigation with methyl bromide is banned by Europe. We can only make sure flowers are free from diseases and pests and ensure quality without fumigation. Kenya and Equador have managed to negotiate exemption, but India is yet to take a call,” says Mr.Chowdhury.