Every spring, hundreds of women go to the mountains of Georgia to pick snowdrops. Women such as Maka Dolidze. The flower bulbs are an export hit. How are wildflowers traded and what’s in it for the pickers?
Annually, Georgia supplies 22 million snowdrop bulbs to the Netherlands, 15 million of which are from the wild. Trader Mamuli Surmanidze is one of only three license holders in all of Georgia permitted to export the plants, which are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Dutch wholesaler John Boot buys the bulbs from Surmanidze, and his company, C.S. Weijers, sells the popular spring flowers to garden centers all across Europe. The mass market is lucrative, a multimillion euro business. The demand for snowdrops is greater than the supply of European varieties. Wild snowdrops are especially sought after.
Snowdrop aficionados like Loes de Groot in Haarlem collect exclusive varieties. The Dutch woman invests up to 2,000 euros per year in her hobby. Meanwhile, the picker and single mother Maka Dolidze earns just a fraction of this for her hard work in the mountains of Georgia. Profit margins in the snowdrop business are huge, but very little reaches the pickers. This documentary is about the wildflower trade and the snowdrops’ long journey from the Caucasus to Europe.
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