"God will reward you,' he said. You must be an angel since you care for flowers." said Victor Hugo, a French poet and novelist. Flowers and plants are God's gifts to mankind and it depends solely on us to care and protect them. The 4th edition of the Ghana Garden and Flower Show organized by Stratcomm Africa was launched recently ahead of its commencement at the beginning of September this year.
Together with many of the citizens of Ghana, I applaud Stratcomm Africa for this initiative through the Ghana Garden and Flower Movement, which is geared towards the promotion of positive attitudes and behaviours towards gardening, flowers and plants among Ghanaians.
Generally, most Ghanaians have a lackadaisical attitude towards the planting and caring of flowers. It is usually during festive occasions like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, that the spirit of purchasing flowers tends to manifest itself.
In as much as it is good to show love and affection to friends and family through flowers, buying imported ones do not only serve as a loss to our country but rather creates profit for already developed countries.
This revenue which could be used for national developmental projects, as well as for the benefit of our citizens as a whole, have been given away freely. This would not be the case if Ghanaians developed an interest in floriculture and horticulture and understood the associated economic benefits.
In my opinion, the Ghana Garden and Flower Movement (GGFM) has the potential of placing the "unemployed graduates" into the "highly-employed" category. With the right positive drive, our rich flora could create millions of jobs and revenue for our country.
The latter can be attained through the export of flowers to countries since a lot of our flowers currently are imported at great cost. According to provisional statistics in 2015 by the Horticultural Crop Directorate (HCD) in Kenya, the floriculture industry earned the country 62.9 billion Kenyan Shillings which is equivalent to GHC2.4 billion ($62 million).
With help from the Ghana Tourist Board and non-governmental organizations dedicated to the maintenance and preservation of flowers, it is my considered opinion that the flower industry can greatly boost the Ecotourism sector in Ghana.
Tourists worldwide would obviously travel to places where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. By training and encouraging Ghanaians to have that "spirit", our Ecotourism would not only bring us worldwide recognition but help foster a greater appreciation for nature.
It is significant to state that the GGFM through the promotion of job creation, foreign exchange generation and environmental conservation are in line with the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, centered on the 5P's - people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.
Additionally, interaction during the Ghana Garden and Flower Show and provision of insight into the benefits of horticulture and floriculture for health and beauty also contribute to achieving these goals. Creating jobs means giving people a chance to gain income and help their family, thus lowering the high risk of poverty and ensuring they enjoy prosperous lives.
Environmental conservation means saying NO to degrading our environment hence protecting it.
It is pertinent to say that the GGFM is a good cause to join and with assistance from the government and other bodies, would not only put Ghana on the international map but would also ensure that the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are realized.
Congratulations are in order once again to Stratcomm Africa for recognizing the essence of flowers and plants to the cause of national development and the world at large through this remarkable initiative. Bravo!