Jan. 30 - Colombia fears bad weather and global economic problems will affect Valentine's Day flower exports. Deborah Lutterbeck reports
Colombia prepares for Valentines Day. St. Valentine's Day is marked in the United States and across Europe on February 14, with many people giving loved ones flowers as a token of their affection. But a troubled global economy and bad weather has some growers in Colombia worried about this year's crop. Augusto Solano, President of the Colombia Flower Growers Association (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) AUGUSTO SOLANO, PRESIDENT OF THE COLOMBIA FLOWER GROWERS ASSOCIATION, SAYING: "Just like in the past, we are worried about the exchange rate. We have become more competitive but the exchange rate and the weather are issues that worry us." The stakes are high. Colombia exports 450 million flowers for Valentine's Day, and flower farmers say that day alone accounts for 12 percent of their annual income. Some say this year will be no different than in years past. JULIAN HERRERA, MANAGER OF AMELIE FLOWERS, SAYING: "This is a tradition that does not change. Even if there is financial recession, people still give flowers. How much could it have decreased? We don't know how much it affected the pockets of those in the United States, but, in reality, I believe that everybody still follows the tradition and gives flowers." Colombia's market has previously been hit by changing demands in U.S. and bad frosts in both countries. Colombia celebrates its own version of Valentine's Day in September. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.