By Dr. Gulzar Akhtar:

Supremacy of Pakistani roses

Roses are known as the king of flowers, delighting humans since the dawn of civilization due to their aesthetic value and essential oils. There is no contradiction about the use of various coloured splendid flowers of roses at different occasions like marriage ceremonies, birthday, Valentine’s Day, departure, arrival etc. Throughout the world no flower like roses is universally loved and used in variety of fields like religion, architecture, literature, art, the perfume industry, fashion, gastronomy, horticulture and gardening. Throughout their colourful history, they are used a symbol of love, beauty, war, politics and also as medicine. Cut rose are mostly used for ornamental purpose and an estimated area of 8,000 ha of roses produce 15-18 billion rose stems annually.

Rosa centifolia in Pakistan

Some roses have a pleasant fragrance in their petals and are incredible source of essential oils, which are indispensable for perfume industry. As almost 500 volatile compounds have been identified in roses with higher percentage of monoterpene alcohols including citronellol, nerol, geraniol, linalool, and phenylethyl alcohol, which are very significant for perfume. It has also been proved that rose oil has an antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti HIV and antioxidant effect. For rose oil and other extracts three species Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia and Rosa alba are extensively used in the world. Big producers of rose oil are Bulgaria, Turkey, France, Morocco etc and 4.25 tons of oil is producing annually in the world. Pakistan is also growing roses from a long time. Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia are famous species using for rose oil and water extraction in Pakistan. Quality wise R. damascena is preferred on R. centifolia, but it produces flowers only two months on the year, which is not sufficient. As a large amount of flowers are required for essential oil extraction in roses. 

On the other hand R. centifolia has advantage because of two additional characters, recurrent flowering (growing throughout the year) and producing flowers at high temperature. These two characters are not found in R. centifolia of other countries. But in Pakistan such character are very helpful in starting a successful business with roses and earning profit throughout the year. To prove these characters in Pakistani centifolia we planned an extensive research work for morphological and genetic comparison of Pakistani centifolia with those found in USA other countries of the world. This research work was funded by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, while completed in Centre of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB), University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan and Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA. Our research confirmed the morphological and genetic variations among Pakistani and other countries centifolia. Current flowering throughout the year including hot condition was only observed in Pakistani centifolia.

This nontraditional high value crop in growing in different cities (Faisalabad, Sargodha, Pattoki, Pak Patton, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kahror pakka) of Punjab, Pakistan and area is increases with the passage of time. Rosa project, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan played a key role to spread this species in Pakistan and trying to involve more farmers in the business because it provides maximum profit to farmers. As an area of one acre produces 5000 plants from which 5000 kg of flowers are obtained in a year. From 5000 kg flowers 1 kg of essential oil can be extracted whose cost is 0.800 -1.00 million in international market. In this way from an area of one acre we can get almost 0.600-0.800 million profit. Different product like Rose water, eye drop, Rose jam, perfumes, air fresher are also made by R. centifolia.

Different methods of oils extraction are supercritical fluid extraction, solvent extraction, steam distillation, cold pressing, and hot pressing methods. In Pakistan rose oil is extracting from the flowers of Rosa centifolia by Steam Distillation, solvent extraction and recently by the Super Critical Fluid Extraction method. Steam Distillation is oldest and traditional method of oil extraction, in which petals are boiled in distillation tank and stream is collected with upper layer of oil. Solvent extraction method is not commonly used at commercial scale. In this method organic solvents (hexane and petroleum) are used for extraction of rose concrete, which further pured as rose absolute. Supercritical fluid extraction (SCFE) is the safe and worldwide adopted method to extract international standard rose oil. This is highly sophisticated equipment for extraction of essential rose oil by using different gases at high pressure. In Pakistan single Supercritical fluid extraction (SCFE) plant is found in Rosa project, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.

For successful business with rose in Pakistan following points should be focused:
1. Selection of healthy cuttings, keep in mind that cutting will not produce flowers if its parent plants did not.
2. Establishing a nursery and using of plant growth regulators to treat cutting before planting.
3. A gel containing growth regulators can be used for better rooting. It is not using in Pakistan but available in USA. Branches of plants with 2-3 leaves can be used throughout the year to produce healthy plants.
4. Establishment of suitable plant for oil extraction after producing stock mother plant for flowers.
5. Finding of market for selling of products.

For more information 
Gulzar Akhtar
HEC Ph.D Scholar
Institute of Horticultural Sciences
University of Agriculture
Cell: +92 321 6211912

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