African roses sparkle under the spotlight of ROOOZ Festival

Posted On 11 Aug 2016
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Large display of African roses at 2016 ROOOZ Festival.

Large display of African roses at 2016 ROOOZ Festival.

AALSMEER, Netherlands: The 3rd ROOOZ festival was held from June 15-19 and featured competition roses, amazing new varieties, a B2B Open House, dazzling floral arrangements, displays of heritage roses and a grand rose show open to the public over the weekend. The ROOOZ Trophy 2016 Award has gone to Interplant’s Rosa ‘Honolulu’.

The ROOOZ show once again took place at the Aalsmeer Historical Gardens which provide an excellent overview of Aalsmeer’s development from 1600 until 1940. The choice of the Historical Gardens is a natural as it boasts an impressive collection of historic roses which perfectly match the sumptuous display of over 300 new rose varieties from no fewer than 11 leading rose breeders.

The five-day rose festival was created in collaboration with three individual rose rowers from the Netherlands: Zuurbier International, VP Group, and RosaPlaza/AQ Roses. All have their rose production (totalling 150-200ha) based in Africa and share the common goal of becoming increasingly involved at all levels of the supply chain.

In his welcome address for the opening of the 2016 ROOOZ show on Wednesday, June 15th, co-organiser Frank Ammerlaan complimented the venue and outlined how the ROOOZ event brings rose professionals from many countries together, offering them a platform for the exchange of ideas, which will tighten the link between Dutch importers and wholesale companies.

For the occasion, Frank announced the September 2016 release of a new corporate video detailing the various aspects of RosaPlaza/AQ Roses, his 40ha rose farm located on the peaceful southern shores of Lake Ziway, Ethiopia. From there, when skies are clear, it is easy to see the town of Asella on  the other side of the lake, occupying pride of place on Ethiopia’s High Central Plateau. “Asella is the town where Haile Gebrselassie was riased and is home to several other great runners, as is the town of Bekoji, a few hours south of Addis. Which brings us to this year’s theme, ‘World Class Athletes, World Class Rose Growers’.”

Frank invited keynote speaker Jos Hermens to the stage. Hermens, a former athlete and 1976 Olympic 10,000m finalist, now works as an agent for top athletes including Ethiopia’s champions Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.

Hermens explained how runners training at high elevations produce more red blood cells which aid oxygen delivery to the muscles. Ethiopia, as well as Kenya, produces some of the best runners, having set 90 percent of world records. In such an inspiring environment Hermens quickly developed a soft spot for Ethiopia. “It all started when I first saw a barefoot  Abebe Bikila win the marathon at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.”

He emphasised Ethiopia’s most famous man, double Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion over 10,000km, Haile Gebrselassie deserves special mention. “My dream would be to see Gebrselassie, who announced a bid for a parliamentary seat in 2013, become the country’s president.”

Hermens believes the iconic runner is the right person to move the great country forward. “Ethiopia is a magic country. Apart from a five-year occupation by Italy, Ethiopia has never been fully colonised. As such it has a unique cultural heritage including its own Amharic language which sometimes can create something of a barrier.”

In an effort to get to know its customers even better, ROOOZ once again hosted a business-to-business Open House on June 16 and 17. In attendance were representatives from local floral wholesale businesses and eco labels such as FairTrade/Max Havelaar, FFFP and MPS, as well as florists and auction staff who stopped by for wine, appetizers and an overall introduction to today’s commercial cut rose portfolio from Kenya and Ethiopia.

ROOOZ once again hosted the Most Promising Rose competition. Eleven rose breeders presented three of their best cultivars in the Intermediate as well as T-Hybrid categories. The overall goal was to determine which roses appeal the most to both industry professionals and the general public. The top 30 flower buyers, mainly focused on wholesale business, voted on Wednesday (invite only), while consumers voted for their favourite rose over the weekend.

The 2016 ROOOZ Trophy has gone to Interplant’s  soft pink Rosa ‘Honolulu’ while industry professionals voted Rosa ‘Zazzle’ from Dümmen Orange and ‘Honolulu’ Best in Show in the Medium Rose and large headed category respectively.

Rosa ’Bisou’ from Olij Roses and Rosa ‘Ever Red’ from De Ruiter Roses won the Visitor’s Vote in the medium and large headed categories. True to tradition, the ROOOZ event hosted a Hands-on-the-Button competition for rose buyers and sellers, led by Royal FloraHolland auctioneer Luus Hooijman.  The mood among the buyers, seated on wooden benches in front of an historic auction clock from 1930, was full of excitement and enthusiasm with Arjen van der Plas from PortalFlora winning the First Prize.

Author: Ron van der Ploeg

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