Bulbs for microcredit business - reinventing the wheel

MATT MATTUS mmattus@charter.net
Sun, 03 Dec 2006 14:29:45 PST
I was intrigued with your vision, I like it, so I spent just a little time
researching what I could find, and here are some findings.
Current Floriculture crops in, commercially, range from carnations, mums, to
gerbera, but there are some commercial growers of  bulbs, mainly gladiolus,
nerine, tulips and lilies.
After liberalization, the Govt. Of India has identified floriculture as a
sunrise industry, and it has been encouraging larger growers to undertake
new crops, but these are large growers and very commercial, with hi-tech
labs and they are growing many of these bulb crops under greenhouse
conditions since the climate is problematic for a consistent crop.
The biggest struggle for the large growers is what Diana has stated, Export
problems, and such things as airline issues - There are few flights, and
most airlines prefer heavy consignments.
On the positive side, an India Agriculture site mentions that even though
the country is endowed with diverse agro-climatic conditions, and low labor,
proximity to the market of Japan, Russia, South East Asia and the Middle
East, some of the best benefits come with subsidies from the Indian Govt (at
least for larger growers) and they also mention 20 tissue culture labs have
recently been established by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Acta Hort (ISHS) lists some recent journal articles on the production of
bulbs in warm climate, sighting South African Israel, South America and
India as strong growth areas.
Combine this with the joint research from Cornell and the Agricultural
Research Council of South Africa showing that Ornithogalum, Lachenalia,
Cyrtanthus, Oxalis and Watsonia are the most promising genus for commercial
pot and maybe you have something there. Especially with the introduction of
the Lachenalia African Beauty series in 1996. As for specialty crops that
are micro and more unusual, I still think that they opportunity exists,
since we are talking small quantities, and distributing to specialty markets
through micro-nurseries like Telos or Odyssey. Expecting small mom and pop
growers to sell via the web directly seems challenging on many levels.
Since you are talking about smaller loads from back-yard growers, this may
not be a problem. Diana has a pint about pesticides and diseases, although
small growers historically deal with small numbers of bulbs, and we are not
talking commercial sized businesses here.
I would imagine that the market is here already, and it is the smaller micro
nursery like Telos, Odyssey and the UK/Japanese specialists. I would imagine
that they already buy some bulbs from small backyard growers. Wouldn┬╣t it be
nice to have 30 species of Lachenalia supplies to Telos from a grower in
India, grown from South African Seed.
I would think that any species that is relatively easy to propagate such as
Lachenalia (leaf cuttings, seed) as well as any bulb that can be chipped or
twin scaled, matched with a market need, could work.

Matt Mattus
Worcester, Ma
Zone 5

On 12/3/06 4:41 PM, "Diane Whitehead" <voltaire@islandnet.com> wrote:

> I don't consider the bubble has been burst by the knowledge that
> there are large wholesale bulb nurseries in India already. There have
> been for a long time.  (I remember buying from Darjeeling about 50
> years ago).
> Just think about some of the plants here in North America that are
> not available commercially at all, or perhaps only from one specialty
> nursery.  I have an alphabetized book of wanted plants, and some have
> been on the list for many decades.
>    I remember visiting a gardener in the U.S. who had a plant of
> Peony Joseph Rock.  That was a plant that had a wait-list, and cost
> almost $200 (half a month's takehome pay for me at the time.)
>   Some plants don't propagate easily, but a careful grower can make a
> modest living growing one of them. Often those of us buying plants
> don't realize the source is only one person. When that grower dies,
> those plants are not available any more.  I can think of a number
> here in my city that used to be available and are no longer - things
> like double bloodroot, Shortia, Cassiope.
> Plants that take a long time from seed and don't make offsets are
> difficult to buy - think of Erythroniums.  A slow-growing bulb might
> fit into a small vegetable garden, with food coming off the top while
> the bulbs increased in size below. I think slow-growing bulbs are
> more suited - fast-growing bulbs are probably grown in large fields
> already.
> So - find some wonderful plants that the big companies won't grow
> because they won't fit into their growing schedule, figure out how
> they can be grown on a smallholding, and set up your plan.  There
> will need to be research and training as the plants will be tricky to
> grow.
> Diane Whitehead
> Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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