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Azerbaijan's flower industry struggles to reviveFor over a decade, Azerbaijan celebrated the birthday of former president Heydar Aliyev with a holiday called Flower Day. Elaborate floral displays were featured in public parks across the country, especially in Baku.
But the holiday was scaled back last year, as the date, May 10, coincided with the end of the 40-day mourning period after heavy fighting with Armenian forces in April, 2016, claimed the lives of nearly 100 Azerbaijanis. And this year, too, the holiday is being celebrated in a more modest fashion, with a variety of small events in which ordinary Azerbaijanis were encouraged to show off their own arrangements.
An independent economist, Rovshan Agayev, estimated in 2014 that the government had spent about 150 million manats, or $117 million, on the holiday from 2004 to 2013. In 2014 alone, 6 million flowers were imported for the event, mainly from the Netherlands, Turkey, Ecuador, Italy, the United States, and Israel.
There was a time when Azerbaijan could have locally sourced its own flowers. During the Soviet era, the republic was a major flower producer and the leading supplier of flowers to Russia.
Today, though, Azerbaijan’s floriculture industry has shrunk to a fraction of its former size. The country’s main export markets are Georgia and Russia, and last year it earned a mere $13,700 on the export of 42,000 cut roses to Georgia, and $13,400 on the export of 268,000 carnations to Russia.
Read more at EurasiaNet
Publication date: 5/19/2017
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