Bulbs for microcredit business - reinventing the wheel

MATT MATTUS mmattus@charter.net
Sun, 03 Dec 2006 14:28:18 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. Although I would imagine that small
box sellers would not have a problem with space, the biggest hurdle may very
well be Export regulations and the U.S. Agriculture dept.
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, with more planned
for the future.
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 knowledge with the joint research
from Cornell and the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa showing
that Ornithogalum, Lachenalia, Crytanthus, 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
distribulting 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 also 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 small market need, might work as a tiny crop.

Matt Mattus
Worcester, MA
Zone 5b
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