Recently, I had the opportunity to visit China after attending the Horti Asia Expo in Bangkok. During the trip, I travelled the Southern parts of China to Nanning and the beautiful port city of Xiamen. The warmth of Chinese hospitality, visiting the local farms and interacting with the growers there was the highlight of the visit. My hosts invited me to various gardens for wax apple, avocado, dragon fruits, succulents farming. Towards the end of the journey, a team from CCTV China met us for an interview where we discussed the existing Horticulture markets in India and China, the prospect of collaboration, opportunities, and challenges.

During the interview, we discussed the existing horticulture market and how India and China can collaborate to compete with the European produces and supplies that currently dominate flowers and horticulture trade. While farmers in India and China are hardworking, there is much more to learn from Europe in terms of technology and market-knowhow. We agreed that awareness, technical training, and knowledge-sharing amongst growers must be part of any initiative towards increasing horticulture productivity in Asia.

Being a promoter of horticulture farming in Himalayan regions, our conversation naturally turn towards trade and commerce opportunities between India and China through the North-East and Himalayan regions of Sikkim and Darjeeling. Someone mentioned about the Jelep La route to China via Kalimpong which was part of ancient trade, but closed down after the India-China war of 1962. As the relationships between the two neighbors have outgrown the 1962 war, it would benefit local economy if the government could study the possibilities to open more such routes for trade and commerce. With India’s Act East Policy, the possibilities we have today are immense for the horticulture industry.

What was most striking about the experience was to see how well connected these smaller cities and towns in China are despite being far from and remote. The Chinese have really worked hard to improve connectivity between places and people via roads, waterways, and even airways. For anyone in horticulture business where we deal with perishable produces, the importance of connectivity and logistics is always high on our radars. It was even more encouraging to see the efficiency of China Post and other domestic courier service where you could be assured that any item you send out will reach its destination within 24-48 hours.

A friend joked about the problems she faced when they had to send us some samples a few months earlier. She said “I sent the courier from China and it reached India in 36 hours. But it was stuck with the Indian courier for more than 1 week before it reached to you within India.” While we all enjoyed the joke the underlying implication of the situation can be quite a disastrous, especially if you are in the flower and vegetable selling business.

Narrated by: Niraj Chhetri, Founder, Himalayan Florica