Can Egypt's floral industry bloom in the whole region?

The Orman Botanical Garden in Giza turns into a giant flower show in late March every year. Sweet-smelling jasmine shrubs, huge sunflowers, aromatic herbs and miniscule succulents are put on display in an area of 14 feddans (14.5 acres) during the 45-day exhibition that aims to showcase, motivate and support the country’s flower producers.

The 86th edition of the exhibition was opened March 21 by Agriculture and Land Reclamation Minister Ezz el-Din Abu Steit, with some 180 Egyptian and Arab producers displaying their flowers and plants.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Khaled el-Sayed, the chairman of Blooms Company, said the exhibition is one of the industry's major annual events. His company exhibits a large selection of indoor and outdoor plants, fruit trees, seeds and gardening supplies. Blooms Company also showcases diverse medicinal and aromatic herbs and plants.

Despite the government's declarations to boost the floral industry, flowers take a backseat to other crops when it comes to agricultural policies, Sayed said. The top priority in the country, unsurprisingly, is wheat and cotton. “In 2015, the Egyptian government announced that it would increase Egypt’s farmlands by 1.5 million feddans [roughly 1.6 million acres]. But there were no aromatic and medicinal plants and herbs among the plants that were given priority,” he noted.

Sayed believes that the floral industry can play a major role in boosting exports and employment if prioritized and subsidized. But the industry also needs to get organized, he said, adding that he has suggested to the government to establish a local sales and export flower market in the New Administrative Capital, near Cairo.

Read more at Al-Monitor (Amira Sayed Ahmed)

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