It's official... I am in love with Colombia
Author Paul Poelstra, Amsterdam 08-10-2017
I’ve been lucky enough to have visited Colombia quite a few times in my life. While working for a rose breeder in the past, I got an opportunity to jet into the South American country 4 to 6 times every year, in a period spanning over 10 years. Looking back I am always amazed at how the initial uncertainty that characterized my first journey to Colombia quickly changed to this deep affection that even I didn't know I had for the country.
It was always a great pleasure and a delight to get to know more about Colombia and her people; even though bulk of my visits were work related since I was trying to sell our rose & gerbera varieties to Colombian growers.
But I've learned a lot about doing business with the Colombian people. Putting in mind a scenario when many of my friends & family at home in the Netherlands thought Colombia was a dangerous third world country; I can truly ascertain that I have enjoyed an absolutely opposite experience. I have gotten to know Colombia as a gorgeous and safe country and also gotten to know Colombian flowers growers as highly professional individuals with whom it was always a pleasure to do business.
Strangely, I can make comparison between dealing with Colombians and doing business with Chinese with whom there always seems to be an initial trust barrier to be broken. Most people would prefer to do business with people they have gotten to know and with whom they have built some trust. Colombians are generally curious people with genuine interest in the person seated on the other side of the table. You don't have to be the same as they are or have the same interests as they do; all they just want to see is the real you.
Even if you are the one trying to sell them something, it is quite the custom for the Colombian to take some generous time out to show you around their company, take you out to lunch, or sneak you out to a memorable adventure like horseback riding or mountain biking; or of course join you on a long night-out in town.
I can truly say that I have built real lifetime friendships which has made doing business in Colombia far easier and a real pleasure. So my advice is quite simple… be yourself and freely indulge yourself in the magnificence that is Colombia and all its facets.
Proflora 2017 and The Colombian Flower Industry
I have been visiting Proflora for many years now and I have witnessed first-hand how the show has evolved gradually to become more and more professional. The very first editions in Cartagena remain magical for us visitors; notably with the night parties on top of the old city walls; but the same couldn’t be said about the flowers and logistics… these were indeed a huge challenge. I would say Proflora is one of the floriculture trade shows that anyone who takes themselves serious in the trade should and must visit.
Not many people realize that Colombia is one the biggest flower growing countries in the world. And the range of flowers and plants that are produced is extremely diverse. Colombia is ranked second after the Netherlands as the largest exporter of flowers. But is by far a bigger flower grower than the Netherlands who import a lot. It is fascinating to note that this country is home to the largest number of Orchids with more than 4.000 different species and well above 1,500 species being exclusive to the country.
Roses are the biggest export flower with more that at $305 million, followed by carnations at just above $200 million and chrysanthemums at $147 million. The Colombian floricultural industry provides 130,000 direct and indirect jobs. A total of 600,000 Colombians’ livelihood depends on the floricultural industry.
During Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Mother’s Day, more than 50% of the annual flower demand in the U.S. is shipped from Colombia. More great news about the Colombia industry is the fact that the majority of flower workers are women who through this are able to cater effectively for their families.
Colombian people are proud of their diversity, which is also radiantly reflected in the flower industry. When you visit Proflora, you get a chance to witness this diversity vividly. First and of primary importance is the tremendous variety of new and well known breeds of Roses, Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Hydrangeas, Alstroemeria, Dianthus and many many more flowers.
Proflora offers a unique combination of pleasure and professionalism, helping foster friendships and create new networks in the industry in a superb atmosphere. With visitors from virtually every part of the world, I was particularly thrilled by how everyone blended and spoke ‘the floral language’ hence creating one big family.
Flowers of Colombia - Diversity that inspires
With a fresh look steered by the Asocolflores marketing team led by Director Eliana María Alzate, the Colombian floriculture industry looks rearing to go. Only time will tell if the four crucial words that oil their wheels (Inspiration, passion, dedication and joy) will help propel the industry to higher heights.
Launched at Proflora 2017 after several months of development, the new brand will be used to position Colombian flowers throughout the world and used in all promotions to ensure brand recognition is as strong as possible. During the launch, Asocolflores described the new brand as bold, bright, dramatic and strong; an exact reflection of flowers from Colombia.
Visit to Rosamina farm
We were invited to visit a farm called Rosamina. This farm is not only an example of the diversity of flowers grown in Colombia but also of how the owners take responsibility for their workers and country.
Since the beginning and subsequent growth of the floriculture industry, thousands of people got jobs in the industry. A good number of flower farms run programs to assist their workers and the surrounding communities better their lives and welfare. A good example is at Rosamina farm, located in the hilly countryside, north of Bogotá. They help a foundation for young girls called the Santa Maria Foundation, an organisation that supports abandoned, orphaned and underprivileged girls. The young girls are taught how to play various ochestra musical instrumets such as violins and cello. The foundation’s objective is also to help the little girls grow up to be educated, proud and productive members of society.
Proflora - much more than just a flower tradeshow
Much more than just a flower tradeshow
Proflora offers a unique combination of pleasure and professionalism, helping foster friendships and create new networks in the industry in a superb atmosphere.
With visitors from virtually every part of the world, I was particularly thrilled by how everyone blended and spoke ‘the floral language’ hence creating one big family.
After dealing with business on the first days the tradeshow, the curtain closes traditionally with a dinner party at the famous “Andres Carne de Res”.
This moments to me and to a good number of visitors is much more than just a party where delectable dishes and drinks are enjoyed.
It is an opportunity to share unique personal experiences, make friends and build trust and business relationships that will last a lifetime.