|Saturday, 8 March 2003|
Saying it with exotic flowers and plants
by Ravi Ladduwahetty
It is incredible, but true. Sri Lanka started exporting exotic flowers and foliage plants in 1982 with the liberalisation of the economy in 1977, but stopped due to the inability to meet the demands of the local market! Moreover, the local prices offered by five star hotels and corporate entities are perceived to be infinitely better!
The collective need was felt to have a forum for the purchase and sale of flowers and an institution known as the Exotics and Orchid Cooperative Society was formed by former Parliamentarian Dhanapala Weerasekera in 1969, which was the only instance in the world where a cooperative entity was incorporated for the purchase and sale of flowers and foliage plants. It was this cooperative institution which later housed the Lakmalsala, the institution which is the buying house for these products.
A highlight of this institution is that it purchases flowers and plants on a round-the-year basis. It also ploughs back around 80 percent of the profits it earns from the sale of the plants which it buys from the buyers back to them. This means that the sellers get almost double the value of sales from the Lakmalsala. What's more, growers are offered regulated prices which means that their incomes are stabilised.
The need to have a national flower exhibition and show was mooted in 1982 with the pioneers of the trade such as veteran Orchid personality L.S. Wanigatunga ( who has been the President of Lakmalsala for a record 28 years till today) and other experts such as Rodney Jonklaas, J.M. Piyasena, C.G. Martinsteyn, Dr. Gamini Jayakuru and Irwin Dassanayake. This was the successor to the annual exhibition of the Orchid Circle of Ceylon which was commenced 65 years ago in 1938.
This national flower show had its maiden appearance in 1982 at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress for two years and at the Art Gallery in 1984 and at the Havelock Park in 1985.
It was with the intervention of late President J.R. Jayewardene that the venue was shifted to the Viharamahadevi Park, and has continued uninterrupted until today.
It is in this backdrop that the Lakmal Flower Show has got under way at the Viharamahadevi Park last Thursday March 6 and will continue till tomorrow, Sunday. There will be over 3000 exhibits of Orchids, Roses, Ixoras, Bougainvillaeas, Bromeliads, Anthurium and Hibiscus among a host of others. There will be over 100,000 flowering plants for sale in the ninety trade stalls.
The show also has its competition which also means that there is recognition for those who have been discerning about their products and modes of cultivation.
There are five main categories of competition for individual plants, groups of different varieties display groups indigenous plant groups and flower arrangements.
The best plant and the runner up of each category will be selected from these categories. The best plant on show and the runner up will be selected from the plants which are selected as the best in all varieties. Every competitor will be allowed to exhibit up to five plants from the varieties of: Palaenopsis type Dendrobium, Intermediate type Dendrobium, Cane type dendrobium, Miniature Dendrobiums, Arandas, Strap Vandas, Ascoscendas, Mokaras and a host of others.
There will be the award of 88 Challenge Trophies which includes for the Best Orchid in Bloom at the Show, First Runner Up, Second Runner Up, Best locally hybridised Dendrobium, Best Miniature Dendrobium, Best Strap Vanda, Best Vanda, Best Phalaenopsis, Best Cattleya, best indigenous Orchid and also for the best novices in the growth of all these varieties.
Produced by Lake House