Independent Senator Professor Henry Fraser is appealing to Government to consider the cut flower industry as an alternative, not only for generating employment in the country, but also, to bring in much needed foreign exchange.
Speaking in the Upper Chamber yesterday, he noted that this was a major sector internationally and he suggested that the country had its foot already in the door, given the recent success of the Barbados Horticultural Society at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London.
“Everybody isn’t interested in flowers; everybody isn’t interested in growing flowers, but this is an enormous industry worldwide, and what this has done for Barbados is incalculable. The opportunity it presents for Barbados, particularly this year, with this unique item of Barbadian creativity and culture, the aesthetic beauty, the Sailor’s Valentine, which has been incorporated into this magnificent display . . . ,” the senator said.
“I make the point that not only the large team that is working hard growing flowers, packing flowers, people sponsoring the shipment of flowers, people going there to set up this display have given Barbados for free a tremendous enrichment of the brand Barbados, and it has huge potential both in terms of its export potential and it’s tourism potential,” he added.
He pointed out that currently there were only a few people growing flowers for export, but suggested that a great deal more could be done.
“The market is absolutely enormous. When I go into the florist, as I did recently, I discovered that the vast majority of flowers used in floral decorations in Barbados had to be imported. We are losing a huge opportunity.
“We talk about the almost $700 million in food imports, I don’t know how much; nobody seems to have the data but we obviously import several million dollars in flowers simply for the aesthetic enjoyment on Mother’s Day, and weddings and anniversaries and all these other things.
“It is a huge industry that we are ignoring to our peril. The tourism side is enormous. There are horticultural tours that occur all over the world. When I was president of the National Trust, we hosted several such tours from Britain and that country remains our biggest single tourism market. Yet we have been doing nothing about this,” Fraser lamented.