Experts see great potentials in Ghana’s floral industry for the local economy and Climate Change mitigation.
The experts who spoke in interviews during the just-ended three-day Flower Community Fair 2022 held at the University of Ghana, said the geography and market expectations were opportune for the West African country to develop the industry and reap the benefits.
Raymond Gordon, Managing Director of Sunflowers Florist, a British-based floral company, said the West African country abounded with plants and flowers that any good florist could use to create beautiful decorative pieces.
“The potential of Ghana’s floral industry is huge, considering the materials we find around. People with creative minds, who see beyond the ordinary, can make the industry grow into a major economic sector,” said the florist.
Gordon, who featured on the New Covent Garden Market’s “Faces Behind Flowers” in Britain and Netflix’s “The Big Flower Fight” was in Ghana to train florists participating in the three-day fair.
He used some items collected from palm trees to create a bee, demonstrating the potential of the Ghanaian florist industry.
“And when I was trying to create objects from Ghanaian-made materials, I was surprised to see what the coconut and the palm nut can do. We created the eye of the bee from palm nuts. And all these flowers are right here in Ghana, and you can create a huge industry with them. It is all about education and raising awareness,” Gordon added.
He observed that Ghana, like other African countries, still had unpaved land in cities and smaller communities suitable for growing flowers and other plants in the floral industry.
Gordon said the unique tropical Ghanaian flowers were another critical factor that made the industry promising because many people in the advanced countries want to see something different coming from Africa.
“People in Britain buy flowers from Kenya. But those flowers come from a different climate. Ghana and other African countries don’t have to grow those flowers. They have tropical flowers which Britain and the West do not have,” Gordon said.
He said, “Uniqueness is what Ghana has. Ghanaian flowers are tropical and unique, giving the industry a comparative advantage in the global marketplace.”
“People in Britain or the West want to attend flower fairs in Ghana and Africa to see something unique to Africa. They do not want to visit to see the western and British flowers they already have.
Also, he said people are tired of silk flowers, and want fresh tropical flowers, urging Ghana and other tropical African countries to groom, package, and market their attractive tropical flowers to the world.
Another factor Gordon mentioned is the growing events and hospitality industries “because flowers feature in weddings, funerals, anniversaries, conferences, hotels, and religious ceremonies. Those industries are growing in Ghana, and as they happen often, they create a market for the floral industry.”
He said Ghanaians already had skills in using flowers and plants to make funeral wreaths and decorative items, which is evidence of the abundant potential for the local floral industry.
“Apart from using flowers in funerals for wreaths, once Ghanaians keep interacting with the rest of the world through personal contact and social media, they will begin to appreciate the use of flowers even in homes and offices, weddings, birthdays, and as gifts to loved ones,” he added.
The visiting florist said the industry players needed to invest in packaging and marketing to modernize the industry and make it more attractive.
Flowers are a package, and packaging in the floral industry is critical. The product should be unique and well-packaged, as people won’t buy anything shabby with broken pots, adding “Package your products well and spend some money to market them.”
The three-day event, which started on Friday, December 2 to coincide with Ghana’s National Farmers Day holiday, was organized by The Flower Community-Gh and the Center for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies at the University of Ghana under the theme: “Growing Flowers, Investing in Nature.”
On his part, Yaw Agyeman Boafo, Senior Fellow at the Climate Change and Sustainability Studies Center at the University of Ghana, said horticulture could contribute greatly to nature conservation to mitigate Climate Change and its adverse impacts.
Boafo said humans had destroyed nature over the past 100 years in the quest to build cities and roads, develop industries, and extract natural resources leading to the Climate Change phenomenon.
He said these had led to the issues of heat-wave, extreme temperatures, and flooding, “but solutions abound in nature.”
“We now need to return to the past when we were in harmony with nature. That brings to the fore the role of plants, flowers, and trees in restoring that balance between humans and nature. The Flower Community Fair is important in that respect,” Boafo said.
In many cities, Boafo said flooding occurs due to the loss of the natural ecosystems, and “we would like to use the fair to encourage everybody to play their roles in growing plants and flowers for nature conservation.”
Boafo who was a member of Ghana’s delegation to the recently-held COP 27 in Egypt said one of the areas of discussion about the Climate Change agenda during the conference was finding nature-based solutions to Climate Change “because nature has solutions to many of the natural occurrences, and plants and animals are part of that.”
“We want everybody to appreciate that nature is a solution to Climate Change, flooding, drought, and extreme heat. Nature provides us with an escape route to deal with the impacts Climate Change inflicts upon us, ” he said.
“Plants help us to reduce the impact of Climate Change, they can help to reduce floods because trees regulate the volume of rainstorms and flooding,” added Boafo.
Apart from nature conservation, the Climate Change specialist said some plants were also for beautification, and others were medicinal and edible.
“The Flower Community Show informs people on the benefits of planting flowers, trees, fruits, and vegetables. Vendors here today grow plants as a means of livelihood. They sell the plants and make money, but also improve their well-being by interacting with nature,” added Boafo.
“Every type of flower and fruit can grow in Ghana. I grow cranberries, strawberries, pomegranates, miracle berries, kiwis, roses, cactus, and other flowers organically in Ghana,” said Maame Akosua Saa, Proprietor of Grow Green Organic Garden from the eastern port city, Tema, one of the exhibitors at the fair.
Saa said she started growing flowers at age eight but decided to add fruits and herbs when she went commercial, “and now my investments are paying off.”
Other florists exhibited herbs and flowers, such as varieties of local and Asian mint, Oreganos, Lucky bamboo, Lippia alba, Basil, and many flowers and herbs.
“We are flower and plant enthusiasts and are here to learn about plants and their uses, especially when everyone is health conscious,” said Matilda Abruquah, founder and convener of Flower Community-Gh.
She added, “We also care about the environment, and want to encourage Ghanaian households to grow more plants to help impact our climate positively. It does not take much experience to nurture a plant or tree. All it takes is interest and will. Once you have the interest, you get a plant and grow. It helps to make you responsible as you take care of plants.”