Twenty tropical flower growers from the state of Alagoas want to start exporting again in 2010. ‘The Valkyries’, as they have come to be known, are members of the Cooperative of Tropical Ornamental Plants, Flowers and Foliage Growers and Exporters (Comflora, in the Portuguese acronym), are betting on the resumption of foreign sales, now that the world crisis has passed.
Aside from traditional markets, such as France, Portugal and Britain, they are eyeing the Middle Eastern and North African countries.
“We are already seeking importers based on the region. We are really willing to do business with the Arab countries. I am certain that our beautiful, colourful tropical flowers will be immensely successful there,” says the president of the Comflora, Branca Rosa Silveira Fragoso, who even has flowers in her name (‘Rosa’ is Portuguese for rose).
“I think that I was born determined to work with flowers,” quips the entrepreneur, who graduated in Law, was an Economics professor at the Federal University of the State of Alagoas, and who started to grow flowers, which became a great passion ever since, shortly before retiring.
“I cannot stay away from them for long anymore. I have just gotten back from a trip across Europe, from which I brought the contact of a potential importer from Paris, and I am really excited about the prospect of exporting again,” explains Branca Rosa.
According to her, for two years, the cooperative – which has existed for eight years already – would export 600 arrangements per week to a French company that owned 120 garden centers.
“Afterwards, they merged into a larger group and the global crisis caused us to lose the market,” she explains. “In addition to the old importers, we have new contacts in Italy and Switzerland,” she finishes off.
The group produces from 30,000 to 40,000 flowers and foliage of more than 30 different varieties. Heliconias, musas and alpinias are the most sought by importers. In the domestic market, the company sells to the states of Alagoas, São Paulo, Paraná, and Mato Grosso do Sul.
“We have a very large domestic market, therefore we are able to deliver orders all over Brazil, as long as they are made 48 hours in advance,” she guarantees. “Foreign orders take four days to be delivered,” she says.
Branca Rosa shared a few tips to help keep tropical flowers pretty for longer. Upon receiving or buying flowers, unpack them immediately and, if possible, bathe the entire stem in water at room temperature for approximately 10 minutes.
In case that is not possible, try at least bathing them with water to hydrate them, and place them inside a recipient containing water. Cut 1 centimeter at most off of the stem’s tip, increase moisture and reduce direct sunlight and air conditioning on the flowers.
“Exotic flowers can last much longer inside the vase as long as dry tips are trimmed as soon as they appear,” she teaches.
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