The breathtaking and exotic red, yellow, crimson flowers showcased by a Dubai-based company evoked great interest at a floral expo here and its Gujarati NRI owner now plans to guide Indian farmers on reaping better returns in floriculture.
M.D. Gidwani, who heads Dubai-based Garden Ville - a $10 million turnover enterprise with an Oman branch -, plans to use the Second International Flora Expo here to showcase new horticulture trends and reach out to more floriculturists keen to tap overseas markets.
"My aim is to make floriculturists aware of new global standards and help Indian farmers enhance the vase life of flowers and get better returns while ensuring that customers, too, get better value for money," Gidwani told IANS in an interview.
Based in Dubai for over 18 years, he has been sourcing most of his green decoration materials from Malaysia, Thailand, India and Kenya for providing total floral solutions.
In the last four years, he has sourced around Rs.50 million worth of mainly roses and tuberoses - Rajnigandha - from Bangalore. But he is now keen to expand the range by helping farmers source new planting materials to grow flowers and fruit-bearing plants used as decorations.
Some of the unusual plants on display at his stall at the Pragati Maidan fairground attracted even veteran floriculturists.
These included the red Viburnum berries (non-edible) on large branches with no leaves, or the Buddha Palm found in Holland and South American countries, which bear unusual deep yellow fruits (non-edible) that have come to be known as Mickey Mouse because of their shape.
What makes them attractive as floral material is not only their appearance but the fact that they have a shelf life of at least a week and in some cases even up to three weeks.
Given the different climatic zones in India, Gidwani is keen that Indian farmers too grow some of these attractive fruit and flower-bearing plants as they offer much scope for growth.
"The future lies in the cultivation of such plants that would yield not only attractive flowers but also have a long shelf-life," said Gidwani, pointing to long-stemmed deep yellow Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) from Holland that was drawing enquiries from several fellow participants.
According to him, the Nilgiri hills in the south holds potential to grow many of the unusual flowers greatly in demand and currently sourced from New Zealand.
"Unfortunately, Indian farmers have not yet realised the potential of many of these lilies and orchids, which grow wild in the country without being taken up for proper cultivation and marketing. This makes it difficult for India to meet large orders," said Gidwani.
Though not planning to invest in farming activities, he is looking at expanding his links with India to offer trading and marketing innovation expertise and help farmers access new technologies and planting materials.