Author: David Dahlson
For the last decade or so that I have been visiting Ecuador with a view to expanding rose business as well as the development of other varieties of flowers, I have been struck on this Valentine’s trip by how much the flower industry has grown, and especially the rose farms. Not only that, but amazing improvements in infrastructure, especially roads, have curtailed travel times by at least half and which is commensurate with an overall expansion in the standard of living. Driving is certainly less harrowing, and one’s liver definitely benefits from the smooth tarmac that’s replaced all the potholes. Similarly, delivery of flowers from the plantations to the airport is much smoother and much, much better for the products than the severe jolting the flowers suffered in the past. Next year the much anticipated new airport will open in the fall of 2013. That’s the good news; the bad news is that road to the airport seems to have been an oversight and may not be completed until 2015!! Travel times to and from the new airport to Quito are predicted to be around 2 hours plus. Ahh well, not everything smells like roses in Ecuador.
Speaking of smelling the roses, another fact that has caught my attention on this trip is just how much attention is being paid by growers to sustainable and environmentally friendly products for the production of roses. While the introduction of these methods and bio-products is less than altruistic, having more to do with cost benefits and the production of superior products, it is certainly a good thing for everyone concerned.
While I have been witness to many rose farms failing, more enterprises are expanding, through consolidation, acquisition and new development. Sometimes such expansion leads to some interesting and unique developments such as this bridge at Bella Rosa for transporting flowers to the post harvest from another part of the farm located on a busy road. Due to growth in the economy this once quiet road has now become a main thoroughfare and crossing the road in the normal way was no longer an option.
But perhaps the most notable conclusion that I have arrived at is how much this expansion of all these rose greenhouses resembles the work of Christo, the conceptual artist who created the Orange Gates in Central Park, NY, who wrapped up the Bay Islands in Australia, and wrapped miles of coastline amongst other things. At present he is working on a project to cover the Arkansas River in Colorado. At present there are about 4,000 hectares of roses under plastic in Ecuador, and in the view pictured here there is probably some three or four hundred. The main piece of “plastic” in this view of Cayembe represents close to 200 hectares. I can remember when Christo’s projects caused quite a stir because it seemed that “wrapping” our environment up seemed frivolous at best and more likely truly preposterous. And yet here is mankind now covering large swathes of the planet with these plastic wrapped greenhouses.