Growing Ghana’s Wealth Through Flowers

Flowers are not just beautiful. They are useful for both humans and animals, providing natural medicines and nutrition – even generating raw material for universally consumed foods such as honey. Banana and citrus flowers have been used in food for humans over the years and the petals of the rose flower are used in both   food and cosmetics industries. Flowers are clearly important to human existence.

People all over the world have incorporated flowers into their livelihoods. Global celebrations such as New Year, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas as well as individual occasions such as weddings, birthdays and funerals have people using flowers to express their sentiments towards others. The increased use of flowers has created a global industry worth US$104billion as at 2016. This is a market that Ghana, with its conducive climate can tap into to grow wealth and improve our communities.

Economists determine the wealth of a nation through its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a country’s geographic borders over a period of time.

In Ghana, the agricultural sector is a significant contributor to GDP, creating wealth for many rural families and large scale investors. According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the sector contributed 19.0% of GDP in 2015: the crop sub-sector contributed14.0%; livestock, fishing, forestry and logging accounted for the remaining 5%.

Conspicuously missing is the contribution of the floriculture (cultivation of flowers) sub-sector, which is at present a sector too small to be statistically significant. This is in spite of the huge potential for floriculture to generate much needed foreign exchange, create jobs and beautify the environment.

Available data on Ghana flower exports indicate an upward trend. In 2010 and 2011, 422,914kgs and 452,358kgs of cut flowers were exported, generating US $1,786,898 and US $2,046,577 respectively. A total of 811,814kgs of cut flowers were exported in 2012 with a revenue of US$ 2,025,099, while in 2013, a total of 766,090kgs of flower exports brought in US$ 2,326,368.

In Malaysia, floriculture has contributed an average of MYR290 million (about USD67.4M) since 2010 through the cultivation of flowers such as orchids. The similarity in climate of Malaysia to Ghana and the foreign exchange earning potential of the sector for example should motivate us as a country to seriously explore the cultivation of   flowers   on commercial scale in Ghana and pursue the growth of this industry.

It is therefore important that we seriously pursue the harnessing of this potential through increased cultivation of flowers for export. The Ghana Garden and Flower Movement through its flagship activity, the Ghana Garden and Flower Show, is championing this cause and calling on all stakeholders to join us in doing so.

The labour intensive nature of the flower industry makes it critical for consideration as an avenue for reducing Ghana’s unemployment, especially in the unskilled sector. The 2015 Ghana Labour Force Survey commissioned by the Ghana Statistical Service estimates that 1.2 million Ghanaians are unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%. Of this number, 714,916 are female, representing 57.2 per cent and 535,997 are male representing 42.8%.

Worldwide, it is estimated that on average 30 persons are employed per hectare of flower farms. Approximately 190,000 people, mainly women, in developing countries have been employed in the flower business in the last decade. This figure is likely to be more if one considers indirect jobs that the industry creates in terms of transportation and construction of facilities for storage etc.

Ghana stands to benefit from this potential if the needed attention is given to growing flowers on a large scale.

One has to contrast the appearance of the road median between the Obetsebi-Lamptey circle and the Mallam interchange portion of the Kaneshie-Kasoa Highway in Accra, which consists of pavement blocks, with the stretch between Weija Junction and the Kasoa toll booth, which has some greenery, to appreciate the beauty that flowers bring to the environment. This attests to the assertion by floriculturists that flowers make long trips by road less tedious.

In fact, the beauty that flowers add to the environment can result in increases in the value of properties in neighborhoods where they have been made a deliberate part of the environment.

For the religiously inclined, flowers give the pleasure of connecting to nature. It is no wonder many religions portray paradise as a beautiful garden.

Undoubtedly, Ghana stands to increase its wealth through the growing of flowers if we make a concerted effort to do so.  The annual Ghana Garden and Flower Show, organized by Stratcomm Africa is being held from 31st August to 4th September, 2017 at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park. This is one of the ways in which Stratcomm Africa is drawing attention   of all Ghanaians to how through floriculture and horticulture, Ghana can become greener, cleaner, healthier, wealthier and more beautiful

Different Stakeholders have specific roles to play to make this possible. The Ghana Garden and Flower Show provides a platform for considering what is available and possible with regard to growing Ghana’s floricultural and horticultural industries. A lot is shared and learnt through the Ghana Garden and Flower conferences, workshops , exhibitions and other associated Garden and Flower related activities such as the Garden Fashion Show, Garden Party( Party/ Jazz in the Park) etc.

We trust that we all will contribute to growing and harnessing from Ghana’s abundant and unique flora and fauna, the environmental aesthetic, health and commercial benefits that they hold for national and individual good. The theme for this year’s show is Flower Ghana Grow Ghana.

This is a feature article by Stratcomm Africa’s Ghana Garden and Flower Team.

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