BOGOTA – The majority of roses to be gifted on Valentine’s Day across the world, particularly in the United States, may have come from Colombia that has shipped a whopping 600 million flowers on the annual high-point of floral exports this year.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, flowers make 9.6 percent of the export of non-energy products, making it one of the most significant sectors for the South American nation’s economy.
During the Valentine’s Day season or the first two weeks of February, more than 114 flights fly from the El Dorado airport of Bogota, carried 12,000 tons of flowers to the US.
The Association of Colombian Flower Exporters (Asocoflores) logistic head, Carolina Pantoja, told EFE that the Colombian flowers are shipped to “more than 100 countries.”
“It is all possible because of a large logistical operation that allows us to export flowers,” she said.
According to the association, the floriculture sector creates 130,000 formal jobs and benefits over 600,000 people with work opportunities.
It takes some 15 to 19 hours from the time flowers are picked from farms, mainly located in Sabana de Bogota, to reach distributors in the US, Pantoja added.
General director for Avianca Cargo Kurt Schosinsky told EFE that when the flowers reach the airport, more than 1,300 people are involved in the logistic process and take care of checks, selection, and loading of flowers in the planes.
Climatic, biological and logistics factors create some problems as nights and unusually cold early mornings affect their stems and petals.
“Florists have an information and contingency system that allows them to react properly (in case of) temperature problems,” Pantoja told EFE.
She said small insects that stick to the flowers, take their pollen and deform them are some of the issues that they face.
After passing through the biological control measure, the flowers are handed over to the airlines responsible for transporting them.
They work jointly with police to avoid any illegal substance finding its way through the cargo.
“Earlier, we faced problems in the logistical chain because there were people who wanted to take advantage of the cargo volume during this time and would try to hide drugs in the boxes or flowers,” colonel Ricardo Sanchez, head of anti-narcotics police, told EFE.
“These days, with the help of scanning and anti-narcotics canine teams, we have been able to ensure that such incidents don’t take place.”
For Augusto Solano, President of Asocolflores, it is important to “innovate and have newer varieties that could be attractive at the market as well as logistic level.”
Agriculture Minister Andres Valencia said the Colombian government had come up with “Plan 2030” to improve the sector.
“The idea is to encourage research on market studies and develop promotional and marketing activities,” Valencia said.