The term cut flower refers to flowers or flower buds (often with some stem and leaf) that have been cut from the plant bearing it. It is usually removed from the plant for indoor decorative use. Typical uses are in vase displays, wreaths and garlands. Flowers are presented to beloved ones as expression of love and feelings, it is also use during weddings, burials and important occasions, they are also used as decorations in homes and offices. The local names for Cut flowers are Fulawa in Hausa, Okoko in Igbo and Ododo in Yoruba.
There are many types of Cut Flower in Nigeria, they are Rose, Chrysanthemum, Tulip, Carnations, Aster, Bird of Paradise, Alstroemeria, Bouvardia, Calla, Daffordil, Delphinium, Freesia, Gerbera, Gladiolus, Iris, Lily, Orchid, Lilly of the valley, while the major types are Roses, Carnations, Tulip and Chrysanthemum.
Longevity of cut flowers: Live cut flowers have a limited life. The majority of cut flowers can be expected to last several days with proper care. This generally requires standing them in water in shade. They can be treated in various ways to increase their life. This is achieved through proper harvesting and the use of flower preservative solutions. The solution normally contains carbohydrate, usually in the form of sucrose in addition to bactericide, fungicide and a wetting agent. The carbohydrate sustains flowers placed in such solutions. However, it also tends to speed up their development. This can be an advantage when flowers especially roses are cut in a tight stage as it will allow them to open with the use of the solution. The flower solution also assist in the keeping the foliage of cut flowers in good conditions. They are used between harvesting and packing at the florist shop, in the customer’s verse or in stem tubes during export.
Creating a cutting garden: Create a cutting garden much the same way you initially establish a flower garden. Choose a site that receives generous sun and prepare the soil so that it drains well. Add humus in the form of compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves to improve clay or sandy soil. Create one or more beds of whatever size and shape accommodate the available space. They can be tucked into sunny spots along the back boundary, in a neglected corner, or behind the garage. By their very nature, they are transient, so they are easily changed or reconfigured next season if necessary.
Harvesting: The correct stage of development varies between flower types. Some are harvested in the bud stage (e.g Rose Lily, Gladiolus, Freesia and Iris) but most should be slightly opened before harvesting. Harvesting is done during the cooler parts of the day. They are more turgid in the morning and easier to handle and their sugar content and there fore, quality is better at the end of the day. These are sound guides to avoid harvesting during the hot period of the day. Vase life is improved if held or green house greenhouse heat is removed as quickly as possible after harvesting. A temperature of 4-5oC is suitable for conditioning most flowers. Humidity should also be controlled and 40-80% relative humidity is recommended if humidity is too high, spotting will occur, and if too low desiccation results. Flowers, particularly dark colour ones, absorb a lot of heat and it is an advantage to cool them quickly. They should be taken into a cool shed as soon as possible and placed in water. Cool store facilities especially forced air coolers are beneficial for fast removal of field heat and prolonging subsequent vase or shelf life.
Grading: The very vital point in grading is that all flowers are in a bunch must be similar. There are many ways in which they may differ but the most frustrating for buyers is to find a short or bent stemmed flower tucked into the centre of a bunch
Quality Properties to be considered are:Size and shape of texture of flower and its attachment to the stem,(1) Size number and texture of petals and their colour intensity, (2)Condition of Calyx (3) Strength, straightness and length of stem (4) Freedom from blemish and damages from pests and diseases (5) Stems must be according to species and variety, rigid and strong enough to support the flowers
Sizing: For cut flowers, sizing comply with the following scale from 0 to 5cm, 5 to 10cm, 10 to 15cm and 120cm or more
Packaging: The produce must be packaged in such a way as to be properly protected. The materials and particularly the paper used inside the package must be new, clean and of a quality such as to avoid causing any external damage to the produce. Newsprint, when used must not come into direct contact with the flowers
Flower maturity: Some flowers are cut while still in the bud or when parity open in order to make storage, packaging and transport easier and to prolong verse life and market availability.
Useful tips: Cut the flowers only at a stage after which the buds can fully open. Flowers for domestic market should be at a more open bud stage than flowers that are destined for export. Different market requires flowers at different stages of maturity. Exporters are advised to crosscheck with the importers for details.
Global Production of cut flowers: Over the past few decades the demand for cut flowers has grown considerably moving beyond the use for special occasion to becoming a more regular decorative feature of middle and upper income households in the importing countries. The total hectares of land allocated cut flowers production worldwide has grown at a fast pace over the past decades and is estimated at some 200,00 hectares. Annual consumption of commercially sold flowers is worth approximately $27billion with the most important varieties being Roses, carnation and Chrysanthemums. It is worthy to note that the larger part of the demand is met by production within the major consuming countries
Global market trend: World imports of cut flowers and foliage expanded at about 0.7% per annum from 1995 to 1999 and reaching US43 billion in1999. Developing Countries share in the world export has risen rapidly since the beginning of the last decade.
The importing Countries: UK, Germany, USA, Netherlands, France, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium etc
Emerging market: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Africa.
Profitability: The return on investment on cut flower is very high, the price at the international market ranges from 0.5$ to 1$ per piece (Fob) and the orders can be from 500 to 5,000 pieces just imagine how much you will make in one transaction.
Our favorable climate condition with equitable distribution of temperature all year round especially in Plateau state and Mambilla in Taraba State. Our close linkages with Europeans markets mainly in the UK, France, Holland and Germany. Off season in the importing Countries coincides with the season in Nigeria. Reliable and direct flight to main market destinations from Nigeria (Abuja & Lagos). There are International Airlines that take off from Abuja and Lagos International Airports to terminal Europeans markets several times in a week with large cargo space. Shorter flight times to terminal Europeans markets (6hours from Nigeria to Europe and Southern African) Lower cost of labour in the production area with huge domestic market as back-up especially for low and medium grades. Excellent market access with zero duty to EU Countries. Minimal barriers especially on sanitary measures has made cut flowers export business a very lucrative business.
Tunji Afuwape is a small business and SMEs finance expert, he consults for business owners and executives and organizes seminars, workshop and conferences.