The first sight on entering the huge air-conditioned hall was a map of India entirely prepared using exotic flowers. That set the tone for the visual feast in the around 200 stalls. The predominant flowers were Roses – huge long stemmed varieties in twin or multiple shades and each at least double the size of what is commonly available. All these beauties are grown specifically for export with expertise from Netherlands and other countries in specially equipped farms on the outskirts of Pune. Despite the presence of thousands of roses, there was no fragrance at all, probably as they were grown from tissue culture techniques.
Large plate-sized Gerberas were yet another eye-catching presence. Bunches available at local flower vendors paled in comparison to the huge, velvety flowers with multiple rows of petals and double colours.
The Kerala stall had some exclusive flowers. Champagne ginger (of the same family as the ginger we consume) was a unique feature in the entire exhibition. It was rather like pinecones and was used in a table arrangement. Spider Orchids and Coconut Rose on show here again are grown specifically for export. Flamboyant Heliconia in red and yellow or pink and orange, Bird of paradise and different coloured Anthurium left no doubt to the origins of catch line ‘Gods own country’. Tamil Nadu too had a beautiful stall. Carnation and Lilium (both pink and orange) arrangements here silently invited each visitor get him/herself photographed with the blooms. States from the North East too had imposing offerings.
The exhibition attracted participants from Netherlands, Israel, Spain, Belgium, Japan among others. It was an eye-opener to learn that post harvest technology is a field by itself and several products to protect and hasten blooming of buds were on show.
A remarkable feature was that almost none of the flowers were on sale. One could buy the occasional Anthurim plant, Cactii (from the Orissa stall) or Poinsettia but no blooms. What one could buy was a range of saplings, some rare bulbs like Daffodils and Iris. There was a separate enclosure for nurseries where one could buy other plants, plant equipment etc.
The event provided a venue for those in the field to carry out business discussions and was a testimony of India’s strides in floriculture and agri-business. Do make it a point to visit such an exhibition next time around, to get a first hand view of our farmers blooming success.