A valley in bloom

A unique and one of its kind plant nursery has come up in Al Batinah North Governorate. They are the pioneers in live ornamental and flowering plants and fruits in the Sultanate. Valley Bee Agricultural Services at Al Multaqa, Suhar has a large area that has rows of unique hybrid varieties of roses, high yield fruits and ornamental plants.
When Cherian P Thomas planned this joint venture with Cheerakuzhy Agro Developers Pvt Ltd under Jose Cheerakuzhy, the Indian partner from Kerala, they never imagined it to be a successful venture. Ali bin Abdullah bin Ahmed al Basti is their Omani sponsor who has extended his full cooperation towards their project.
The Jose family are one of the biggest plant growers and exporters in Attapadi, Kerala, for over four decades. This is their second generation continuing the tradition from ‘Karshakasree’ late K C Kuriakose who are the pioneers in commercial horticulture.
Cherian with over 3 decades of experience in landscaping and irrigation contracting business deviated into growing and selling of hybrid variety and high yield fruits, flowering and agricultural plants trading business 5 years ago.
Their 7-acre nursery has many unique varieties of plants which include Poinsettia, Chrysanthemum, and roses like Kalanchoes, Floribunda, Miniature, H-T, Climbing, Groundcover, English, and Modern Garden. Many hybrid varieties like dwarf Hibiscus, bushy Bougainvillea (Lovely Pink), hybrid Lantana and Dahlia are also grown.
High yield fruit plants include 20 special varieties of mangoes from Alphonso, Kesar, Peda Rasal, Mallika, Banganapally and sugarcane varieties. Exotic fruits like Thai Red Water Apple, Guava Thai Red Variety, Seethaphal (Sugar Apple) and Sapodilla are also grown in plenty.
The nursery is the only one to have variegated varieties of Ficus namely Weeping Ficus, Ficus Black with its excellent air-purifying foliage bringing in more oxygen to the environment.
Cherian mentions use of natural and organic manure at Valley Bee. “We are basically growers and source rooted plants from Thailand, Holland, China and India and grow them at the nursery with the help of coco peat. Once the roots show up these are sold in the local markets and also exported to UAE.” Coco peat is made from the pith of coconut husks which are transported from Salalah and the peat prepared using a crusher.
“Flowering plants are imported by procuring rooted plants and grown at the specially designed polyhouses augmented with latest technology required to grow exotic plant varieties that suit the climatic conditions,” explains Cherian.
After extensive study of the conditions, Valley Bee developed these systems to grow the plants which are not available among other nurseries in the Sultanate.
Some special ornamental plants like Golden Bamboo, Buddha Bamboo and Eugenia are also grown and so are flowering plants like Anthurium, Cassia Biflora, Crossandra, Gardenia, Geranium and Gerbera. Other rare outdoor plants like Fishtail palm, Foxtail palm, and Manila palm. All these are available for retail.
Valley Bee also imports flowering plants from the Far East and fruit trees from India, Indonesia and Thailand. Some of the rooted plants imported from Holland are Poinsettia Chrysanthemum, Gardenia and indoor plant varieties. There are also ornamental chilli varieties like Chilly Chili, Black Pearl, Masquerade and Tangerine Dream.
Cherian says the climate and geographical conditions are excellent for cultivating vegetables, flowering and fruit plants in controlled temperatures maintained from 15-35°C throughout the year.
For the future, Cherian hopes to cater to the demands in GCC and also plan tie ups with SQU and other authorities. They look forward to supporting horticulture crop growers in Oman. Along with proper infrastructure and latest technologies, the single largest 1,200 sq metre Fan and Pad system was installed which helps maintain temperature variations along with the existing red polyhouse, a growth simulator.
Slowly they plan to enter the local market to sell their products. Though not planning to commercialise fish farming, their current fish farming facility (Tilapia) supports their organic fertiliser requirements for the growth of plants. Support by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources has helped to increase their facility and investment.
Cherian’s message to all is “each resident in Oman or elsewhere should sow a plant during their lifetime to support Mother Nature from whom we are getting everything to maintain our precious lives. It is our great responsibility to reach out and help sustain future generations.”
Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/UwfKTJP77J4KtnTx8.
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