The roses grown in Colombia have been for 28 years the favorite flowers of popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francisco to decorate the salons of the Vatican.
To the smallest country in the world, Colombian flowers were brought by Italian businessman Giovanni Sicignano, who with his company Condor Società Cooperativa has traveled to different places to find the best and most colorful stems.
When he first visited the South American country in the decade of the 90s, the Italian understood why he is the second flower exporter in the world, with an international market share of 14.1%, below Holland, which holds 48%.
"The great advantage that Colombia has over other producing countries is that it has large and very well organized farms," he told Efe Sicignano Thursday, who is participating in Bogotá in the Bicentennial Macrorrueda, organized by the government entity ProColombia.
To the Vatican, where he arrived thanks to "one of the wholesalers" to whom he sells them in Italy and who is the supplier of the flowers for that enclave inside Rome, he usually sends roses.
"I always send roses and from time to time I have special orders to send those flowers with a height of 1.40 meters and yellow by the Vatican flags," said Sicignano on the requests he receives.
However, until the Holy See has also brought red roses, he added, "are the most requested in all markets."
His closeness to that independent state allowed him to live one of the happiest moments of his existence: Talk with Pope John Paul II.
"I met John Paul II, I brought him flowers during a hearing, they were yellow and red roses," he explained.
Although he clarified that "in front of a Pope there is very little talk," the Supreme Pontiff was thrilled to see the gift born of Colombian soil and managed to say, pleased, "thank you."
To increase the trade of stems in Italy, where he sends weekly from the Colombian departments of Cundinamarca (center) and Antioquia (northwest) hydrangeas, carnations, astromelias and gypso in assorted colors, Sicignano decided to create another company.
This is Condor Andino SAS, based in the municipality of La Union, which is part of Antioquia, which according to the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters (Asocolflores), has 1,750 hectares sown with which it contributes 20% of national production .
Taking into account that Colombia's flower exports reached 1,443 million dollars in 2018, the objective of the participation of the Italian in the Bicentennial Macrorrueda is "to know new farms" and to greet other producers with whom he has been working for years to be able to develop more the business.
With Condor Andino, he explained, we want to "build an infrastructure between the municipalities of Rionegro and La Union to help small farms that are almost abandoned and subject to sell flowers to larger farms at a very cheap price."
In total, said the manager of the company in Colombia, Elizabeth Tabares, they will "group 60 farms, which produce hydrangeas" and hiring mothers head of family who will be responsible for the post-harvest process.
The intention is to start exporting 2,500 boxes per week of those stems in two months to continue conquering the taste of the Italians with the most beautiful daughters of Colombia: the flowers.