After 11 years, Thailand to organise international horticulture event

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Chiruit Israngkun (left) with Tim Briercliffe speak to the media at the Thailand Pavilion in Dubai. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Thailand for the third time and after 11 years, shall be the host of an International Horticulture Exposition four years from now, as approved by a global organisation set up in 1948 to “champion the power of (ornamental) plants.”

The approval for the northeastern province of Udon Thani to host the “International Horticultural Expo2026” was announced on Tuesday, from the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) General Assembly, held against the backdrop of the Expo2020 Dubai and in the presence of a 60-strong delegation direct from Thailand, led by recent UAE visitor Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on.

AIPH members who represent various horticultural organisations around the world have been in the UAE since March 7 (Monday) for their first-ever in-person general assembly since the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

From the Thailand Pavilion of the World Expo on Wednesday afternoon, AIHP Secretary General Tim Briercliff told Gulf Today that the general membership finally sealed the Udon Thani bid, after the Udon Thani Expo Organising Team delivered an excellent presentation that fitted the AIPH Regulations for International Horticultural Exhibitions.

 “They submitted a feasibility study, a big document. AIPH board members inspected the proposed site (a wetland of 164.8 hectares with 100.8 hectares of land and 64 hectares of water near the Mekong Delta shared with Laos, VietNam and China) last February.

The board members made the recommendations. These recommendations with the excellent presentation were approved last Monday.  They will now be developing a master plan that will detail what will take place in each area of the site and   which require some improvements in the quality of the wetland area, and  the cleaning up where there is any contamination in the area. They will have a number of projects that they will have to put in place to demonstrate their theme which is all about connecting people, water and plants. Everything ia (revolves around) this theme. The idea is that this will become an example of how to regenerate land, how to create an area that will provide the environmental health and social benefits to citizens and the city breathing and regeneration for other cities in Thailand and other cities in the world,” said Briercliff.

Briercliff repeated that the exhibition will only be on ornamental plants when this reporter enquired about the inclusion of food crops. He pointed out as well that expos should be educational as these should be avenues for knowledge and skills transfer: “We are very keen that the Organising Committee will show that these plants will also have functional benefits that will make a difference in people’s lives. Not that these plants only look pretty but people and cities will be encouraged to build on policies for taking challenges such as climate change, flooding, and the heat.”

He was glad to know that it was the Udon Thani natives who actively proposed for their province to apply for the exposition hosting: “Our ethos is to champion for the power of plants. Their role in the landscape are really important for tackling the challenges and cities of the world (which are) climate change, human health and social issues.”

Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau president Chiruit Israngkun said it was in 2006 and 2011 when the northern province of Chiang Mai hosted two other AIHP expositions. He added  local as well as national public and private individuals fully supported the wish and desire of the Udon Thani inhabitants to host as they are indeed connected with nature and know how to thrive with their environment. The preparation expenditures was projected at 2.5 million Thailand Bahts (Dhs277,247.12). Estimated visitors from Nov. 1, 2026 to Mar. 14, 2027 is 3.6 million.  

The other AIHP calendared expositions are the “Floriade Expo2022 Amsterdam” in Almere, The Netherlands under the theme “Growing Green Cities,” the “Expo2023 Doha Qatar” under the theme “Green Desert, Better Environment,” and the “World Horticultural Expo2027” in Yokohama, Japan under the theme “Scenery of the Future for Happiness.”

From a press statement of Thailand Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Sri-on, Thailand is committed to contributing to the global food security through the “3S” farming and food policy, focusing on food safety, food security, and  sustainability that also fulfills all the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while adhering to the Paris Agreement climate aspirations.

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