80,000 fewer roses sold compared to last year
KATHMANDU, FEBRUARY 14
Nimesh Nepal, a resident of Anamnagar who works in a finance company, decided against buying a rose for his wife on Valentine's Day this year.
"Because of the pandemic, it felt wrong to be celebrating Valentine's Day this year," he explained, adding that this year the couple planned to cook dinner at home and spend quality time with family, in a break from their yearly ritual of going out.
Roses are one of the best-selling flowers in the week leading to the Valentine's Day. However, with the coronavirus pandemic dampening their joy, the demand for the flower has dropped.
According to the Floriculture Association Nepal, the demand for roses slumped by around 40 per cent this year. Last year, around 200,000 roses were sold in the week leading to Valentine's Day. However, this year, only 120,000 rose stems were sold in the past week.
"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for roses has declined drastically this year," said FAN President Kumar Kasaju Shrestha. Because of the pandemic, there is a relative lull in the market this year, he added.
The pandemic, however, did not stop Sushil Roy from Ramkot from buying roses for his girlfriend.
"Indeed the pandemic has changed many things. As we couldn't meet frequently over the last year, I decided to do something special for her," he said. "I bought a bouquet of roses and sent it to her workplace to surprise her."
During February, when the demand for roses peaks, the local production is insufficient to meet the market demand. So, every year roses are imported.
The local production can cater to only around 20 per cent of the market demand, he said.
Of the total sales this week, 96,000 rose stems were imported while around 24,000 were produced locally.
Roses worth Rs 10 million have been sold this week, Shrestha said. Because of the drop in demand, traders sold roses in the range of Rs 60 to Rs 100 per unit this year, similar to last year, he said. The year before, one rose was sold for Rs 40 to Rs 80.
Sixty per cent of roses were sold in Kathmandu valley, 20 per cent in Pokhara, and the remaining 20 per cent in other districts.
In the week leading up to Valentine's Day, about 8,000 to 10,000 stems of roses are sold in a day.
There are around 675 floriculture nurseries in 41 districts.
Most of them are in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kaski, Chitwan, Makawanpur, Kavrepalanchowk, Gulmi, Palpa, Dhading, and Morang. Among them, commercial farming of rose is being done in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Chitwan, and Kavrepalanchowk.
A version of this article appears in the print on February 15, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.